Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: February 1, 2010
Read it in: 4 days
Source: The library
This book was amazing! Like, I can't even... wow. Just, wow. I totally LOVED it!
You know those books that you start reading, and before you know it, you are just completely and irretrievably being sucked into another world that is so wildly imaginative and intoxicating that you don't want to ever put it down or have it end?
Yeah, that pretty much describes The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.
Now, I have read a couple faery books in the past, neither of them doing all that much for me. Tithe by Holly Black was definitely an awesome book, but it was really dark and somehow lacked something for me. Wicked Lovely was utterly lost on me and made me want to stick needles in my eyes. But this book? Totally different story. Let's talk about why:
First of all, THANK YOU Julie, for writing an intelligent story about faeries that DOES NOT ASSUME that every one of your readers is some expert on faeries and faerie lore. This was my biggest beef with books like Wicked Lovely, because I had NO IDEA what the heck was going on! But The Iron King does an incredibly good job of explaining what's happening and why it's happening, without going overboard with the descriptions. This made it easy and enjoyable to read.
Second, the world-building in this story was fan-freaking-tastic. The fairyland of the Nevernever was vibrant, beautiful, dark and dangerous-- if you read this book, you will be completely sucked into the world of the fey and not want to ever come back! Really, really well done. I loved it.
The plot started out kind of slow, but once it got going, it was impossible to stop reading. We begin in the human world with Meghan Chase, just a typical teenager who gets picked on a lot in school. Meghan starts seeing strange things at home and at school-- and then her little brother Ethan pretty much turns into a demon-possessed little monster, until she finds out that he has been kidnapped by faeries and replaced by a changeling!
Meghan was an awesome main character and it was never boring reading from her point of view. She was brave, determined, and never suffered from YA-Heroine-Whining-Syndrome. Thank God! She was easy to relate to, and at the same time you can see how she will develop into a strong leader in the next books.
When Meghan finds out from her friend Robbie-- AKA Robin Goodfellow, AKA Puck from A Midsummer's Night Dream-- that Ethan is now a prisoner in the Nevernever, Meghan is bound and determined to go find him and bring him back home. Along the way, she meets many new characters, each more imaginative and unique than the next. Grimalkin, the Cait Sithe? Freaking LOVED him! Grim is a cat-- well, a faery cat-- and he's just as cool as the Cheshire Cat from Alice and Wonderland. Seriously, all of the secondary characters in this book-- right down to the Pack-rats in Machina's territory, were incredible. They were all so real and alive, and had a sort of kooky flair to them that reminded me of a Tim Burton movie.
So anyways, as Meghan searches for her brother in the Nevernever, she soon learns that she is actually the half-daughter of the King of the Summer (Seelie) Court-- thus, she is immune to the effects of iron on faeries, yet she contains a very strong power within her that she must learn to control and use against the new threat to the Nevernever-- Machina, the Iron King and his realm that has been created by the ever-growing human world of science, technology and disbelief in all things magical...
Now let's talk about Ash. You may know from reading my reviews that I am a very hard sell when it comes to love interests in books-- I almost never like them! But Ash-- I don't know what it was about him-- I totally fell for him. Yes, he was the hard-to-get type, and very standoffish, but I really loved him. I think I almost cried towards the end, during that part in the cave... I am hoping that he and Meghan develop a closer relationship in the next books!
The ideas behind the plot of The Iron King were just so original and creative, while also reminding me of some of my favorite stories and movies. The world of the Nevernever was completely entrancing, and the characters were imaginative, vibrant and wonderfully memorable. It was clear that Julie Kagawa put a lot of thought into her story and how she would tell it, right down to the last detail. The emotion, the action, the chemistry, the descriptions, the dialog-- honestly, I don't have anything negative to say about this book and I cannot wait to read the next three in the Iron Fey Series. Julie Kagawa, you have brought back my faith in faery books!