The Iron King (The Iron Fey, #1) by Julie Kagawa
Published by Harlequin Teen on February 1, 2010
Genres: young adult fantasy, paranormal, urban fantasy, romance
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I have a weakness for fae books, you guys. The Fae are such mysterious, terrifying creatures, and, when written well, make for fascinating novels.
In theory, at least. Perhaps one of the reasons I have a predilection for fae novels (Faeriewalker, ACOTAR) is because I haven’t read any superb ones. (The search continues! And I’m going to read ACOMAF soon, and I’ve heard it’s amazing, so…we’ll see. This statement might change soon.)
I was hoping this book would be that for me. I enjoyed Kagawa’s Blood of Eden trilogy, even though I was disappointed by the last book, and I was excited to give her another chance. I’d heard good things about this, and was hoping it would be better than the weird, awkwardly quirky mess that was the Faeriewalker series.
Well, this definitely wasn’t awkward. But it wasn’t fantastic, either.
First off, I never really felt like I could connect with Meghan. Like Allison, she’s a tough, strong girl who doesn’t take nonsense from anybody. But, unlike Allison, she never really came alive for me. She likes a boy on the football team–okay. She’s severely bullied at school–got it. She has a stepbrother she adores, a mother she has a rocky relationship with, and a stranger of a stepdad–understood. Oh, yeah, and her actual father is a High Fae. Cool, I guess. I never really cared.
This book had a great premise: the idea that a new type of fae is emerging based on the way human civilization is changing, one made of something most fae are resistant to–iron. But this novelty gets lost in the ordinariness of it all, the familiarity. We’ve seen this all before. Outcast girl who’s not human? Best friend/guardian who also isn’t human? Kidnapped sibling taken to nonhuman world where our main character must save him/her? Check, check, and check.
Did I mention Meghan also falls for a fae prince from the enemy court, and that they barely know each other before they kiss? There’s no chemistry between them, and Ash (the prince) seems more like somebody’s sketch of an emo fairy princess (like Zuko from Avatar, only with longer hair and no scar, and without the amazing backstory and character development).
Another thing: the world-building. There was so much potential for the Nevernever. But, instead of absorbing that richness, we have little encounters with various creatures there, which only gives little pieces, not much of a bigger picture. It’s like thirsting for water and trying to drink it, but the water ends up being bubbles instead that pop as soon as they touch your nose: disorienting and a little confusing. We get some time in the Faerie courts, but not enough, IMO, to learn enough about them to make this interpretation of them memorable. Which is a shame, because the potential is there.
Overall, there’s some snarky banter and there are a few fun scenes (almost any scene with Puck, really; I liked him a lot.). But other than that, I kind of felt this book was a waste of my time, like eating an overcooked pound cake sorely lacking in sweetener: plain, bland, and not dense enough for me. I won’t be continuing the series, and I probably won’t read any more of Kagawa’s future books; just like the pound cake, they aren’t satisfying enough for me.