The Iron King (The Iron Fey #1)
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.
I loved this book so much it's not even funny! It had fierce characters, a spiffy cat, romance, action, and danger all wrapped up with amazing writing, Shakespearean inspiration and a promise of 2 more books to come - what more do you need?
I think I first must talk about Grimalkin, and how he is the coolest cat ever. Julie Kagawa manages to perfectly capture the spirit of a cat in Grimalkin (or at least what seems what a cat would be like to me). He had attitude, and was downright awesome. Then there was Puck and Ash. Puck was so much fun! Everything was always a joke, and things he did had me laughing so hard! Ash was more serious and cold, but the little things he did felt really heartwarming.
Now I must talk about Meghan. Major props to Julie Kagawa for making Meghan a strong and intelligent female protagonist who remains dedicated to whatever she does. She stands her ground for what she believes in, in this world where pretty much everyone's trying to sway her to their side.
The romance in The Iron King was perfect in the setting. There was none of the gooey, love scenes which sometimes don't seem real. Romance in The Iron King had sparks flying off the page. There was so much anticipation, so many almost moments. I kept thinking they'd finally kiss, and then something else would happen.
The writing was excellent. From page 1, I felt as if I had been transported to Meghan's world and was there alongside her. The setting Julie Kagawa wrote is simply magical - magical and beautiful - all while having that edgy feeling that danger is lurking around every corner.
I was basically addicted to The Iron King. I started reading, and I couldn't put it down! I had to know what would happen next. Julie Kagawa nicely ties up the major story of The Iron King, while unfolding another tale for Meghan that has readers begging to know what'll happen.
Basically, this book is awesome and everyone should read it. If you're a fan of fairy books, you will definitely want to read this one. If you've never tried fairy books before, read this. If you've read some fairy books before and weren't a fan, read this one anyways. You do not want to miss The Iron King! It is that amazing.
The scene with Meghan's little brother was so creepy I had to check under my bed! The thing with the dog completely broke my heart. The beginning of the adventure felt well motivated with good twists and turns. The author's writing style was super enjoyable to read, a real page-turner. She's definitely one of my favourites.
Puck was hilarious! I'd get sick of him and his pranks in real life but I loved reading about him and his antics. I liked the use of a well-known character, it made him feel like a fuller character. The same goes for other well-known characters used. Grimalkin seemed very similar to The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland which instantly made me like him. As I got to know him I loved his snarky attitude especially paired with Puck.
At first, I found Ash to be a total prick but over the course of the book he won me over. The romance between him and Meghan felt natural, not forced like many romances. Plus, the whole forbidden love angle made it even more addicting!
The frightening faeries and creatures were an interesting take on the usual gentle faeries. It felt more in line with the original faeries tales, where faeries were bloodthirsty creatures not to be trusted. Meghan's adventure was an epic trek throughout the entire Nevernever with several unexpected twist and turns. I can not wait to read the rest of the series!
So, this book was just epic, I found myself laughing, screaming (inside my head only), and squealing. There is lots of action as is custom from Julie Kagawa and a tiny bit of romance which I hope picks up more in the following books. I've heard a lot of people say that won't touch this book because it has fairies and they hate fairies but I love fairies and this book was amazing! It didn't start out slow and the characters felt real and were likable (not the bad guys obviously).
This was a great way to kick off a series, how could you not want to pick up the next book with that kind of cliffhanger? You're left dying to know what Ash is going to let happen to Meghan after all they've been through. Will he let his mother, The Queen of Winter use her for her own gain? I can't wait to find out!
The Iron King is very much that sort of book. Outwardly, it has everything going against it. Teen girl finds out she’s a fairy (*gasp*) and her dad is the fairy king (*bigger gasp*) and she is actually the most special of all special fairies, and has the power to save all of fairyland (*biggest gasp*). Throw in a a bucketful of very obvious allusions to Ella Enchanted, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo & Juliet, The Hobbit, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Labyrinth, and The Goonies, and we have a recipe for a certified failbook.
Basically, I do not like the premise for this story, which I knew before I opened the front cover. I picked this up because I was impressed with The Immortal Rules by Kagawa, and figured I should check out her more popular set of books. So, I wasn’t very surprised when The Iron King began methodically ticking off boxes in the Paranormal Cliché Checklist; I expected it.
Also, characters: not the best. Meghan needs to be rescued a lot. She also thinks she’s awesome because she’s poor and not “shallow” like rich girls who wear makeup. Because, obviously, wearing makeup means you’re an awful person. Duh. Yeah, it’s real great that she’s attempting to rescue her brother from the fey who kidnapped him, but I kind of feel like David Bowie already did that…pretty sure he did.
And nothing you can say will convince me that Grimalkin is in any way superior to Hoggle and the Bog of Eternal Stench. Nothing.
All this to say, even though this book is a complete rip-off of all sorts of other (very awesome) books and films, and even though Meghan is not a very inspiring protagonist, I still liked this book. In spots, I liked it a lot.
Julie Kagawa’s storytelling has some sort of indefinable quality to it that sort of rises above the cheesy, been-there-done-that-ness of her content. Something like mindless entertainment, with a little bit of guilty pleasure attached. But very enjoyable nontheless.
And, all things considered, we must remember that this is a YA paranormal debut. Personally, I cannot think of a good YA paranormal debut off the top of my head. So, the fact that this is basically a book version of The Labyrinth, minus David Bowie and plus corny Shakespeare references, is only to be expected. Altogether, there are much, much worse books out there.
The Iron King left me unimpressed overall, but Kagawa's worldbuilding deserves some applause. If there is any one element in the novel that is outstanding, it's this. Her idea of how the iron fey came to be is actually quite ingenious and she makes the well-used details of the fey's Summer/Seelie and Winter/Unseelie Courts feel somewhat fresh. More than a few times, I was reminded of the movie Labyrinth, which is pretty much something everyone who has seen the movie can say about this book.
Still, it draws too much on Labyrinth at times and I stop enjoying the similarities. Subtle parallels are okay, such as those to Sailor Moon in Cinder by Marissa Meyer, but The Iron King went above and beyond in that respect. The overindulgence in cliches and lack of depth made it harder and harder to enjoy the novel. Our brooding hero Ash, the insta-love he and Meghan have, the stereotypes of the human high school students,... Cliches should be played with, not played straight.
From the time Meghan called a cheerleader ""inflate-a-boob" Angie", I disliked her. I forgave some of her dumb actions in the novel because she had no idea what they fey were like and was slowly learning, but some things are simply unforgivable. Like being told not to run because the enemy will see her and then running to a police officer as if he could help her with fey-possessed humans. That's just--- There are no words. The scene with the satyrs trying to rape Meghan and Ash saving her from them bothered me far worse than that. THIS IS NOT A WAY TO DEVELOP A ROMANCE. IT NEEDS TO DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH.
So they spend the entire novel traveling to get to the Iron Kingdom and rescue Ethan, and once they get there and meet Machina, the Iron King, it's all over just like that. So much anticipation for a few pages of a speech (one so creepy that I made a GIF-worthy horrorface) and then that's it. What I'd heard about Machina played on one of my tropey weakness of the villain wanting the heroine and was yet another factor in why I finally jumped into this series. Such a quick ending was disappointing.
Because I'm dumb like that, I faith-bought the entire series at once and can't return them. Maybe I'll get to the other books of Kagawa's series at some point and see if they are any better than The Iron King. It feels like this review is too short, but there's simply no more I feel needs to be said.
But then I accidentally stumbled upon this book for free on official website and most people in IMM comments on my blog voted that I should give it a try. Well I listened to you, my fellow book-lovers. :)
Julie Kagawa's style of writing is very easy to read. It's light, and breezy with right amount of descriptions, inner monologue, dialog and action to make it just right. It's surprisingly good for a first novel.
The world of Fey Julie Kagawa created, takes ideas from several different books and sources. They enter at the beginning through the closet (Narnia), one of the characters is sarcastic mysterious disappearing talking cat (Alice in Wonderland) and there is whole cast of characters from Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream': Oberon, Titania, Puck, etc. But, Julie Kagawa managed to add her touch to these characters, transfer them to urban setting and make them unique and original.
Also, there are so many types of different types of creatures we will encounter here that it's a real treat for lovers of mythological and paranormal. Be warned, Julie Kagawa has a little bit of teeth-fetish.
So why the low rating? Because 'The Iron King' represent all of the most popular (and most used) tropes in YA books.
Story is told from first person point of view by Megan Chase. Her father is missing since she was a kid and she is neglected by her mother and stepfather. But then she discovers magical world and creatures living in our world that other humans can't see. I will not list any more cliches she represents because they would be spoilers, but there are many many more.
As for romance - of course it has to be a triangle! One is quirky best friend (who she never saw in that light although he is in love with her forever) and the other is handsome bad boy & tortured hero (who of course has a soft side that is revealed just for her).
After reading so many different versions of the land of the fey, of the Summer and Winter courts, I was a bit afraid that this book would blend into the others. Faerie books are rather popular, and sometimes they blur at the edges. Can I say, I had absolutely nothing to worry about! Julie Kagawa manages to create a whole new faerie story where nothing is what you expect it to be. She throws new elements into the well worn land of the fey and I cannot say enough how much I loved reading all about NeverNever! Terrifying and beautiful at the same time, I almost wish I could find a portal into this land. Especially if it meant I could have Grimalkin as a guide. Who would have thought I'd ever fall so in love with a cat?
Now, now I know you're reading this review and wondering out loud "Well where does she stand on the Puck vs. Ash debate?" but hold on, I'm getting to that! It's just a matter of explaining to you what I love about each of them. Puck is funny, he's wild and one of those characters who just oozes charisma without even trying. On the opposite side of the spectrum (or love triangle if you will?) is the cold, hard, and yet still deliciously attractive Ash. My final verdict? I can not seem to choose! I love them both equally. I'll admit I am leaning a bit towards the Team Puck side, but I have yet to read The Iron Daughter so we will see. Oh yes, we will see.
Without a doubt this was one of my favorite reads of this month! Julie Kagawa is an amazing writer, and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us in the next installment. More Meghan, more Puck and more Ash....what could be better?
I had problems with the names of things. I think that Julie Kagawa could of taken the time to come up with a creative name for the Nevernever. That was a bit of a cheesy name, so I think she should get rid of the Peter Pan thing and change it to something creative. Also the name of the Ironhorse. It was a Ironhorse, but it could of been called something else.
The problem of being introduced to the world of Fey was addressed correctly as Meghan freaked out and thought that Robbie had lost it. She did not just accept it casually, but had a whole little freak out. That was good, as in other books, there is no reactions.
I think that the romance was not done properly. They had no reason to be together other than pure lust. She should of pushed Ash away more, not just hug him when she felt like it. It should of been MORE of a love-hate relationship. It did not cut it for me. And also that Ash is old, way old, not cool.
This book had a interesting concept, and my friend told me that it gets better in the next books, so I bought the Iron Daughter. I did enjoy this book, but I feel that there were a few minor issues. I recommend this book to girls between the ages of 12-16, as the faery thing gets old as you get older, and I do not think boys enjoy faeries.
I absolutely loved all the allusions to other works - Shakespeare, Alice in Wonderland, The Labryinth, Peter Pan (to name a few!) - but because of these references, I was faced with a weird sense of deja vu which permeated the entire story. It left me with an overall feeling of predictability, and thus, the lasting impression is one of unoriginality. I was really hoping Kagawa would blow me away with her ingenuity, and I was quite upset with how little of faery history she manipulated into something of her own devising. That being said, I did love the inclusion of the Iron Fae, and the explanation for their existence.
Meghan was a good protagonist, and charmingly reminded me a little of Bella with her clumsiness. There were definitely a couple of damsel-in-distress moments where I wanted to reach through the pages and grab her by the shoulders for a good shake, but she mostly redeemed herself in the end with her courage and bravery. I found her routine of embarking on a journey, stumbling into a dangerous situation, and being saved by one of her two faery escorts slightly irritating, but that was part of the predictability I mentioned earlier. I do wish that we had seen more of this "hidden" power that Meghan apparently has, as it is mentioned by several different characters throughout the book. We get to catch a glimpse at the end, but we're mostly just teased with morsels.
The one thing I really disliked about Meghan was her willingness to enter into a contract/deal with every creature from Faeryland that she encountered. Anyone who has any experience with Fey are aware of some cardinal things - no names, no dancing, no eating/drinking of their food and no deal making! Even after being warned of the dangers of entering into a rushed deal with a faery, Meghan is offering to "do anything" every time she runs into a problem. I wish she would have taken time to think things through before rushing headfirst into something she will be eternally bound to.
Being a sucker for forbidden love, I was intrigued by the flame blossoming between Meghan and Ash. Unfortunately my intrigue was undeserved, as their relationship bordered on love-at-first-sight. Other then the fact that he lost someone close to him and that he is a Prince of the Winter Court, I know nothing about Ash. I don't know his reasons for being attracted to Meghan, or her reasons for finding him so alluring - besides the shallow outer reasons of tall, dark and handsome (which she takes notice of repeatedly). There also seemed to be flickers of interest from Puck, which I hope were just my imagination - the last thing YA needs is another love-triangle. Not to mention the fact that Puck is centuries old and should be beyond feelings of fleeting interest for an awkward teenage mortal.
I did enjoy the world-building, and found that Kagawa was able to create such vivid imagery that I could very clearly picture the scenes in my head. I enjoyed all of the characters - even the seemingly menial characters were full of personality and came alive across the pages - but who hasn't read a faery story about a child being replaced with a changeling, and the resulting quest of a newly discovered half-faery/half-mortal royal to get him back? So while enjoyable, I found The Iron King underwhelmingly unimaginative.
I really like Puck, Meghan's best friend. She thought that he was Robbie, a perfectly normal human who loved playing pranks. Then she found out that he was the infamous Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream, capable of much more than harmless pranks. But he was one of my favourite characters, a sarcastic relief from the tension of the book. I really loved the fact that he was sarcastic and always joking around, but when it came down to it, he did everything possible to protect Meghan. And then we found out that he was in love with Meghan, and I thought "Uh-Oh" You'll find out why later.
And then there was Ash, the Ice Prince. He was a dark, cold, distant, brooding prince, but that really worked for him. It just made me love him even more. Meghan realised she was falling in love with him, and Ash was falling in love with her, although he didn't realise it for quite some time, near the end of the book.
I even liked the evil guys. Titania queen of the Seelie, who wasn't exactly evil, but was set on turning Meghan into some sort of animal, was very interesting and I could picture her perfectly. And Mab, Queen of the Unseelie, a frosty, dark and unmerciful queen, was exactly as I pictured the impersonation of Winter to look like.
Then there was Grimalkin, a cat of all things who could disappear and reappear at will. He was a good guy in the book, but everything he did for Meghan came with a price. That's how things go in Faery. A contract or a promise you make means much more in Faery than it does here (in the normal world).
A contract, like the one Meghan did with Ash, that was that she would go with him to the Winter Court willingly and he would help her find her brother, means everything. So if you ever happen to find a trod that goes to the mysterious Faery, remember to hold your tongue...
In end, Meghan defeated Machina, the evil Iron King that had her brother with a magic arrow, but Puck was seriously injured and they had to leave him to heal in a tree, a decision that tore at Meghan. She got Ethan back to her family, and stayed just long enough to say goodbye, and explain to Ethan that she wasn't normal anymore. Ash came all too soon to take her away to the Winter Kingdom.
And there the book ends.
Puck, Meghan's best friend, is probably one of my favorite characters of all time. He's the comedic relief throughout the series, always making some joke to cut the tension. And I loved that no matter how sarcastic he was, he still did everything he could to protect Meghan.
And Ash. The Ice Prince. I don't know what to say about him without being too spoilery, but just let me say, the whole "dark brooding prince" act really works for him. And I mean really works. I loved Ash even more than Puck.
Still, I think there's something I loved even more than Ash. It was the fact that Meghan got pulled into that mess with the Fae, not because she fell in love or accidentally stumbled upon it, but because she was trying to save her little brother. Everything she goes through, no matter how much she wants to give up, she always remembers that she's trying to save Ethan.
I even loved the evil people in this book. And trust me, there were quite a few of them O_o Mab, the queen of the Winter Court, for one. And then there was the plot, full of twists to keep you occupied and surprised through the whole book.
Overall: The characters were amazing, the plot was amazing, and even the talking cat, Grimalkin, was hilarious. I don't think there's anything I didn't love about this book. If you haven't read this series, I think you should start. Like, now. You'll be hooked until the end. (And the fact that it's about Fae and not your typical paranormal things these days is just a bonus.) 5 stars.