Sunday, 9 January 2011

Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa + rant on characters

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Series: The Iron Fey Trilogy (1- The Iron King, 2- The Iron Daughter, 3- The Iron Queen)
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group:Young Adult
Publisher: Harlequin E
Release Date: March 2010
Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780373210084
RRP: $19.99 AUD
Source: Many thanks to the awesome people at Harlequin E, who provided this book in exchange for an honest review. 
Cover love? Gorgeous cover, I love the face and the ornate borders, along with the typography.


Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…

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.


Julie Kagawa has painted a beautiful world that comes to life with each turn of the page. I picked this book up because of the beautiful cover and the enchanting synopsis, and found myself pleasantly surprised about the story that entailed.

The book starts off like your typical YA novel: a female protagonist who is unpopular and fed up with her boring and troubled life. Then strange things start happening to her, and she discovers that her best friend is not who she thinks he is. This paves the way for the adventure that ensues: Meghan is the daughter of faerie King Oberon of the Summer Court, ruler of the Summer fey.

I loved all the aspects of the Fey world that Julile Kagawa meticulously researched and weaved into Meghan's story: the Fey, the aversion to iron, the Shakespearean characters (from A Midsummer Night's Dream), the Summer and Winter Courts, and how children's imagination fuels this alternate universe. She slowly builds up a portrait of this world, without overwhelming us with information all at once.

There was never a dull moment in this book, scarcely a single meaningless passage. Sometimes I found my eyes would skip on to a new passage (as I carelessly tend to do while reading), and I would inevitably be confused, because it felt as if every sentence is crucial to the entire story. If I even blinked, I would miss some action. Similarly, this book is very fast-paced, thoroughly an adventure novel that spans across two worlds and finds the heroes in situations reminiscent to fantasy stories such as J R R Tolkein's The Hobbit.

The characters are average, without any characteristics that separate them from the mass of YA characters within these genres. The loving, relatable, brave-when-needed heroine who falls in love? Check. The funny, loyal, male best friend with a crush? Check. The mysterious, gorgeous boy with kickass fighting skills? Check!

Sure, these are standard, formulaic characters that work, but have quickly become so commonplace within YA that they're inducing eyerolls from me. I realise now that a major part of most of my favourite novels come with unique characters are admirable, but ultimately have very human traits, such as the cohort from The Hunger Games, and Harry Potter. The character descriptions for the trio above (who just so happens to be involved in a love triangle- so totally didn't see that one coming) could be easily applied to Twilight, The Mortal Instruments and Vampire Academy. (Which are three standout series that immediately come to mind, although I cringe to associate the calibre of characters from the latter two with those from Twilight.) On the plus side, there was a witty, devious talking cat who helps Meghan out of a couple of tight spots.

Despite my little rant on characters, I like this series very much. The plot is adventurous, laced with an aroma of romance, and I adore the world that Julie Kagawa incorporates. It's a complex web of fairytales and legends, this Fey world, and I'm looking forward to being similarly entranced with the final installation in this series: The Iron Queen, coming out February 1st, 2011 (which is next month!)


The Iron Fey Official Website | Winter's Passage (Exclusive Novella) Download | The Iron King at Harlequin E | Goodreads | The Iron King Excerpt |