Thursday, July 14, 2011

I can admit when I'm wrong: 5 stars to The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Queen
(Book 3 in the Iron Fey Series)

~Julie Kagawa

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Harlequin
Publish Date: January 25, 2011
ISBN-10: 0373210183
ISBN-13: 978-0373210183
ASIN: B004JF688U

From the author's website:
In less than twenty-four hours I'll be seventeen.
Although, technically, I won't actually be turning seventeen. I've been in the Nevernever too long. When you're in Faery, you don't age. So while a year has passed in the real world, agewise I'm probably only a few days older than when I went in.
In real life, I've changed so much I don't even recognize myself.


I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.

"No thanks, I don't like books about fairies."
"Nope, haven't read that series, faery stories don't interest me."
"A Young Adult novel about the Fey? I don't think I'll enjoy that book."

I'll admit it; I was wrong. There. I said it. I was totally and completely wrong. I just glommed this whole series, and The Iron Queen is my favorite so far.

The story:

Megan Chase is half human, half faery; her father is Oberon, the Seelie King.  Ash, her boyfriend, is prince of the Unseelie Court. In the first book, The Iron King, Megan (with the help of Ash and her best friend Puck, of A Midsummer Night's Dream fame) rescues her brother from Faery and defeats the Iron King. In the second book, The Iron Daughter, the trio battles to retrieve the Scepter of the Seasons, which has been stolen by an Iron Faery. As The Iron Queen opens, Ash and Megan are in the human world, banished from Faery at the end of the second book because of their love for each other, which is forbidden.  They're heading to Megan's family, which she hasn't seen in almost a year, hoping to rest and recharge before they figure out what they're going to do with their futures.

Before she can reach the house, though, Megan is attacked. It seems there's a False King in the Iron Realm who wants to kidnap Megan so he can forcefully take her Iron magic. At the same time, the False King is waging a war with both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, taking over Faery and killing everything in its path with iron magic. Megan has been asked back into Faery to defeat the Iron King and save Faery.

My thoughts:

Now that I got that out of the way, here's why...
Julie Kagawa is the kind of storyteller that pulls you in right from the beginning of the story. The Iron fey are both striking and creepy: if the "regular" fey are the result of human imagination, the Iron fey are the result of human's belief in technology. Her descriptions of the Iron fey are imaginative and believable:

Movement all around us, as dozens of Iron fey melted out of the shadows.  I felt the cold pulse of Iron glamour, gray and flat and colorless, as they surrounded us in a bristly ring. I saw dwarves with mechanical arms and elves with huge black eyes, numbers scrolling across their pupils like glowing green ants. I saw dogs with bodies made of ticking clockwork, green-skinned fey with computer wires for hair, and many more.
~The Iron Queen, page 54
Ms. Kagawa also writes the angst of first love well. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely not an angsty teenage book. BUT, despite all the battles and plotting and war, Megan is experiencing first love with Ash, a hundreds-year-old faery with some love issues of his own. Throw Megan's best friend Puck into the mix (he's also in love with Megan), and there's plenty of emotion woven into the story. I liked Ash through the first two books, even when we were supposed to think he was a jerk, but I fell head-over-heels in love with his character in The Iron Queen:

He ran his fingers through my hair, brushing it from my cheek.  "If I'd thought I would regret it," he said calmly, "I never would have made that oath. I knew what becoming a knight would mean.  And if you asked me again, the answer would be the same." He sighed, framing my face with his hands. "My life...everything I am...belongs to you."
~The Iron Queen, page 196
And of course, I can't forget to mention Grimalkin the cat with the talent to appear exactly where he needs to be when he needs to be there.  He reminds me of a feline Galdalf.

I'd also like to take a moment to also mention the gorgeous cover and beautiful scrollwork on the chapter pages, which adds to the overall reading experience; the whole package is designed to draw the reader in; the story and fabulous writing keep you there.

This series has been added to my keeper shelf. I cannot wait for the next installment in this addictive series, the Iron Knight, which will be told from Ash's point of view. Ms. Kagawa did a livestream interview with some big announcements and an excerpt from the Iron Knight - her recap can be found here.

My Rating:


Book received by publisher at ALA.


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