Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

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.

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Review

The Iron Fey series for me, up until now, has been one of those book series you hear about and skirt around reading. I’ve done the same with Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Vampire Academy. Coming across them, being curious, but putting off reading them until my curiosity got the better of me. My curiosity usually wins and in the case of The Iron King, it got the better of me far sooner than expected. I blame this mostly on having read Julie Kagawa’s The Immortal Rules, which I got a kick out of. I wanted to know if I would enjoy a Faerie fantasy just as much from the same author.

I find Faerie-based fantasy to be perplexing in that so much is similar. Similar use of names, similar weaknesses, similar nature, and similar mystery throughout what stories I have come across. This is a detail of the genre I’ve discovered can sway me away from a story. There’s only so much you can read in the same genre pool before you feel as though you have been reading the same stories rehashed. As a seldom reader of Faerie-based fantasy, my perspective of what I’ve seen of the genre is a small pool at best. I believe this has helped me warm to The Iron King.

There’s the similar use of names, weaknesses, and nature of course, but there’s also the inclusion of well-known characters from Shakespeare. I’m not a fan of Shakespeare, but I still appreciate crossover and character-based inspiration. As it is, while I was reading The Iron King I was also playing The Sims and ended up naming the pet dog Puck. I love Puck in this story. I think it’s a combination of knowing him from something else and how Kagawa has presented him, which has helped me to adore him. He is mischievous, but serious at the same time. Distinct and memorable, Puck is the main character that had me enjoying scenes more because he was present. I’m not particular to the a-typical attraction the Fey create with non-fey or half-fey beings, so Puck’s character and antics helped to tone that down for me.

As for the other characters, several of them can spring to mind when I think of The Iron King. Their characters are well written, but I didn’t find them as attractive as Puck. Puck, Ethan, and Grim were the major standouts, but Grim also made me think of Alice in Wonderland far too often. I couldn’t picture him as this know-all cat, but rather as the cheeky, cheesy, character played by Whoopi Goldberg. I know. I don’t know what my brain is thinking half the time either.

I think what really drew me and carried me throughout the story was descriptions and atmosphere. Kagawa has a way with words that I find makes it far easier to imagine scenery and leaves a distinct impression, which lasts after the final page. Going from our world to the different kingdoms in the land of the fey, and being able to pick up on how the different kingdoms are at heart by the atmosphere and world-building is wonderful. Obviously you can pick that up too with character introduction, but I think personalities and beliefs were shown quite well in the land they occupied. Especially the Iron Kingdom. That’s another area I appreciate which is different to the usual Fey worlds. How often do you come across Iron based Fey and an Iron Kingdom? I loved how the modern world was meshed with the old stories of faery myth to marry them together and create a cohesive, updated, story of the fey. Including their existence based on belief and tales was another facet I found fleshed it out and made it more of a memorable story in my mind.

The ending wasn’t a large cliffhanger to me; at least it wasn’t one that galvanised me to keep reading. What has done so is knowing Meghan Chase’s transformation has only just begun and discovering more about the world of fey as well as their customs.

You can read the first chapter here (PDF).

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One thought on “Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

  1. I keep skirting this series too, but I should really give it a try. I’ve a weakness for so many of these Fae stories, many of them share a similar mythology, like you mentioned, so it’s a bit of a comfort zone even though the stories themselves are completely different.

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