What an amazing book! Kagawa has taken a mix of folk-lore and fae legend and mixed it in with a brillant imagination to make a beautiful, exciting, and creative world that you just can't tear yourself away from. The story flows off of the pages and pulls you in from the first page to the very last.
Meghan Chase is such a great teen character, she flawed and vunerable, but still strong and completely unforgettable. Loyal to all of her friends and family, she goes on a crazy, wild ride, through a scary, yet beautiful world of the imagination to save her brother from an evil fae. She meets some great characters along the way. Grimalkin, a sneaky, sly cat who will crack you up through-out the whole book. Puck, a fun-loving, loyal friend, who helps Meghan through the journey. Ash, a gorgeous prince of the Unseelie court that will melt your heart while he freezes your body, and a whole cast of other spiffy or spooky characters.
There's some romance woven into the tale, but it's not overly done or mushy. It's electric and will have you anticipating when they will finally have that chance to kiss. The world is magically described without be wordy, and each character has a life and a charm of their own. A great read. Everyone needs to pick this up and read it, whether you are a teen or an adult!
I've read a LOT of fae-themed YA lit in the last year or so (after all the vampire stories fell off my to-read list), so I don't say this lightly: The Iron Fae one of the best series in the crowded sea of "fairy tales" crowding Borders today. In my opinion, author Julie Kagawa has gotten the formula just right. The Iron King, her first book in a planned four-book series, combines the dark cruelty of Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely books (one of the trailblazers of the genre) with the best-loved faeries in literature, plucked from Shakespeare, folklore and classic bedtime stories.
From the earliest pages of the book, it's clear that heroine Meghan Chase is special. But still, she doesn't seem to fit in anywhere. She's friendly but forgettable. Bright, but socially awkward, and close only with her neighbor and childhood friend, Robbie. Her father disappeared mysteriously in a city park when she was very young, and although Meghan is still haunted by his absence and the strangeness of his vanishing, her mother has moved on with Meghan's hog-farmer step-father and four-year-old half-brother. Meghan now floats through her day-in-day-out existence, disconnected from it all.
Unfortunately, the sameness and safety of Meghan's life is shattered on her 16th birthday, when her little brother is snatched from her home by a "dark man" from his closet. In his place is a changeling, a rude, base creature that looks like her brother, but is a vicious, empty double ready to cause chaos and misfortune in any way he can.
After rescuing Meghan from an attack by the changeling, Robbie reveals his true identity: he's actually Robin Goodfellow, Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream and a powerful Summer Court faerie. Meghan is more different than she ever knew -- she is part faerie, daughter of King Oberon and a lost princess of the Summer Court. Together, they journey to the strange world of the Nevernever to reunite Meghan with her birth father and hopefully, to rescue her brother and bring him home again.
The journey to Nevernever is a dark one -- this is a book most appropriate for older teens. Kagawa's fae are bloodthirsty and cunning, and in her time in Faerieland, Meghan is viciously assaulted by Redcaps, almost raped by a band of satyrs and is in constant threat of being eaten by various beasties. But with the help of cait-sith Grimalkin (a nod to Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat), Puck and his sworn enemy Ash, youngest son of Queen Mab and prince of the Winter Court, Meghan stumbles upon a much larger threat than these various nightmares. Something is killing the Nevernever, poisoning the magical land like toxic waste and leaving it scarred, burned and colorless. A strange, unknown fae who calls himself The Iron King claims to have her brother, and has unleashed a host of never-before-seen machine/faerie hybrids on the land. Iron is fatal to fae -- so how can such a thing exist?
As Meghan unravels the mystery of the Iron fae -- and her own faerie history -- she'll also fight royal fae politics, millenia-old blood grudges and the traditions of her magical birthright to find happiness and to carve out a place for herself in her new world.
I loved Kagawa's writing, and couldn't put this book down. I loved the pairing of traditional fae legend with a new, modern mythology, and the iron fae concept is a very original one. I loved the way Kagawa brought technology into the world of magic, creating a classic conflict very resonant to our world today. Does technology have the power to kill magic? It's an interesting social commentary wrapped up in a wonderful, imaginative story that I can't wait to continue in The Iron Daughter.
This is the first book in the Iron Fey trilogy by Julie Kagawa, The second book "The Iron Daughter" is due out in August of 2010. I got my copy of this book through the Amazon Vine Program. This was an awesome book and blew other young adult fairy series right out of the water.
Meghan Chase lives on a pig farm and her family is poor but her life isn't awful. Then her brother complains about a dark man in his closet; when Meghan goes to look she thinks she sees something there, but when she looks directly it is gone. Things start getting weirder and weirder for Meghan. When she comes home to find her mother knocked out on the kitchen floor and her younger brother Ethan replaced by something that's not Ethan but looks like him...well she freaks. Luckily her friend Robbie comes to her aid. Only Robbie is not really her friend but the good old Puck sent to protect Meghan...because...you guessed it she is actually a fairy princess in hiding. Meghan then embarks on a dark journey to save her brother and find out the truth of her own past.
This was an awesome book. I really enjoyed Kagawa's writing style. Her writing style is to the point but leaves room for beautiful description. Kagawa is not afraid to show the dark side of the fae and does an excellent job of making them creepy. She also excelled at the action scenes, they were awesome...with enough danger and gore to make them believable but not overdo it. She doesn't shy away from violence...there is some swearing, some talk of rape, and lots of injuring in this book. None of it was excessive and I thought it made for a better story, unlike some YA fantasy that shies away from showing the darker side of fairy.
The characterization was also very well done. Meghan is an excellent character that really is just a normal girl caught in extraordinary circumstances. She doesn't whine, she just does the best she can and through her wits and caring nature she accomplishes a lot. Robbie and Ash are also excellent characters, both of them have deep dark pasts that make their characters at times tender and at times very dangerous, even bordering on evil.
The concept of fairy that Kagawa uses is unique. I loved that she adds in a third fairy group that both the Unseelie and Seelie courts are in danger from. The idea of human belief causing the rise of this third fairy group was unique and I loved how human advancement in technology ties into it all. A very unique idea; at times it reminded me of parts of the Neverending Story and at times it got a little sci-fi.
The story wraps up well at the end, but definitely leaves you wondering what will happen in Meghan's future. I really, really want to read "Iron Daughter" as soon as I can get a copy of it.
Overall this blows away most of the other young adult fairy literature that I have read. It is much better than Marr's Wicked Lovely series, better than Lament, and better than Aprilynne Pike's Wings (although I did like that book). I put this book on par with Holly Black's Modern Fairy Tales series; and I loved that series to death so that is saying a lot!
THE IRON KING is an unbelievably refreshing, charming, and hilarious faerie adventure. This just proves that there is no story that can be overtold: it's just a matter of how it's told. And this one is told spectacularly.
All of the characters in this book easily come alive through their uniquely different personalities and sparkling dialogue. In fact, their differences are what make the love triangle so believable and attractive. In most cases the "male best friend who's been there her whole life" figure would hardly be in the running (think Simon from the Mortal Instruments trilogy), but here, Puck is a classic, fitting his Shakespearean prankster roots yet being adorably memorable. Ash has more of a "quiet, brooding, dangerous supernatural hot guy" thing going on, and yet he doesn't fall into the cliche, and turns out to be lovable too in his own way. And last but not least, Grimalkin, who has a Cheshire Cat-like presence in the story, while not a part of the love triangle, probably steals the show every time he gets to talk--and rightly so, for there was probably never a more lovably snide character in literature since Lewis Carroll's classic itself.
More than just character appeal, however, THE IRON KING is also lusciously written. Julie Kagawa is able to perfectly balance vivid description of setting with a plot that continues to move forward. We easily visualize the faery world, in a way that doesn't interrupt the flow of the novel.
Meghan is an admirably determined protagonist, a cut above the norm. She's relatable but not annoying in her stubborn rebelliousness. Her character is a little inconsistent at the beginning, when I had pegged for the typical wannabe-popular, obsessed-with-the-football-star teen girl, but she quickly grew into a heroine I could respect and even admire.
Overall, THE IRON KING defied my expectations. I had expected something cliched and ultimately forgettable; instead, I got something marvelously rich in terms of writing, character, and story. This debut novel has made me an instant fan of Julie Kagawa, and I can hardly wait until the next installment, THE IRON DAUGHTER, is released!
Reviewed by Lynn Crow for TeensReadToo.com
Meghan Chase doesn't feel she has a place in her life. At home, her stepfather seems to forget her more often than not, and at school the popular kids tease her for her family's backcountry ways. Her only comforts are her one friend, Robbie, who always seems to be there when she needs him, and her little brother, Ethan, who adores her.
But on her sixteenth birthday, Ethan is stolen away, and Robbie reveals he's something far beyond a human boy. He gives Meghan the choice: forget everything out of the ordinary she's seen, or enter a world she can hardly believe is real.
Knowing she can't abandon Ethan, Meghan plunges head first into a dangerous realm of fae and magic. But the Never Never holds more frightening things than even her guide knows, and Meghan may be the key to protecting not just her brother, but the entire land.
THE IRON KING makes for a welcome addition to the crowded shelves of YA urban fantasy. Its unique take on faerie lore will make it stand out in readers' minds, and the well-paced action and suspense will keep them glued to the page. Some may find the personality of the romantic lead to be overly changeable, but just as many will feel their pulse fluttering right along with Meghan's.
The first in a trilogy, the novel wraps up its main conflicts in a satisfying way, while leaving ample room for further adventures in the sequels. Recommended to all fans of fantasy.