The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Fairies
Publishing Info: February 1st 2010 by Harlequin Teen
Star Rating: 3.5/5
Back Cover Summary:
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.
The Iron King is the first book in Julie Kagawa’s urban fantasy series which brings fairies into the modern age. The main reason I picked up this book was the recommendations of my friends. The paranormal genre is one I’ve begun to stay away from after many disappointing reads, however, I thought I would give this a go as dark fairies sounded different to vampires and werewolves and the like.
My first impression was a negative one. The writing style doesn’t really do anything for me. Sometimes the wording doesn’t always flow and Meghan’s voice in the narrative feels quite immature at times. It took me a while to ‘get into’ the story, it was at least halfway through before I started to enjoy it and want to keep reading.
In terms of characters I found most of them to be quite weak. Meghan always seems to have to be rescued by others, frequently playing the ‘damsel in distress’ role and very rarely being able to use her brain. It takes until the last few chapters of the book before she is able to act on her own and fight for herself. The redeeming part of her characterisation is her determination to get her brother back no matter the consequences. Puck is a good character, always having a good line to add some humour. I didn’t connect with Ash much, though he grew on me as the book went on. Kagawa did a good job of presenting him as cold and unemotional. Grimalkin steals the show for me for most of the book, despite not being one of the three main characters. Grim’s characterisation is best of all the characters.
The changeling plot isn’t all that original and as the world of the fey is very much based on actual myths and legends there isn’t much room for Kagawa’s own world building (apart from a particular part of the world which is entirely her own creation but no spoilers). It didn’t take too long to establish the plot which I thought was good, Kagawa gets to the point quite quickly but once the ‘saving the brother’ storyline is established it takes ages for anything much to happen. I like the element of adventure the book has as a lot of similar YA books focus on romance and nothing much happens in them. Thankfully, the romance doesn’t dominate the story which is one of its saving points.
Overall, this book is much better than many paranormal YA novels and for once the romance is a side plot that hardly crops up rather than being the focus of the plot. I liked that there was adventure and some events were unexpected (though I wouldn’t say it was full of twists and turns, more of a sprinkling). The minor characters (especially Grimalkin) steal the show with Meghan being a very mediocre and at times annoying main character. I’ll be reading the next one at least because I bought the books together since they were on offer. I’ve heard they get better as they go along so hopefully I will enjoy the next one more.
Now I have to take a moment to compare this to Poison by Chris Wooding. This book is about a female main character called Poison who has to rescue her sister who has been swapped for a fairy changeling. These books have the same premise but Chris Wooding pulls it off a million times better. Poison is dark, adventurous, compelling, exciting, and void of irritating, whiny main characters. If you want to read a YA book about fairies pick this up. It is leagues superior to The Iron King.