Apr 13, 2012

Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron King [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Julie Kagawa [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: The Iron Fey #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Published: February 1st, 2010 by Harlequin Teen
Format: Kindle edition; 363 pages.  
Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Meghan has never really fit in--she’s the poor country girl at school, and her only real friend is Robbie, her poor country neighbor.  However, she realizes as she nears her 16th birthday, that there is more to it than not having the right clothes or money.  Her 4-year-old brother, Ethan, is constantly claiming to see monsters, and now Meghan thinks it might be more than childhood fear.  She’s seeing things too, and when Ethan is replaced with a changeling she gets Robbie to reveal some truths about the world of the fey.  He agrees to take her there and to assist her in retrieving her brother, but navigating Fairyland proves to be much more dangerous and full of truths than Meghan might be ready for.

It was inevitable when I picked up The Iron Fey, that I was going to compare it to Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely.  So please indulge me while I do so for a paragraph (you can skip it, you don’t have to tell me).  Going in, I have to admit I was worried that the series would be too similar, or that I just wouldn’t like this one as much.  Luckily, they were different enough I don’t feel as if I’ll be constantly comparing them (you know, other than this paragraph), and I did really like this first novel in The Iron Fey.  Where Wicked Lovely is written as more urban fantasy, I would categorize The Iron Fey as strait up fantasy with a contemporary setting.  The Iron Fey is less dark, but still presents the fey as creepy, mischievous, potentially scary, and was slightly more traditional in its lore.  It kind of felt like it was written for a slightly younger audience than Wicked Lovely, and followed a few more YA tropes, but I found The Iron Fey to be original, well written, and completely engrossing.  What sucked me in?  This paragraph here:

I hadn’t even touched the keys when the computer screen blipped on.  When I paused, my fingers hovering over the board, words began to scroll across the blue screen.  Meghan Chase.  We see you.  We’re coming for you.  I froze.  The words continued, those three sentences, over and over.  Meghan Chase.  We see you.  We’re coming for you.  Megan Chase we see you we’re coming for you.  Meghan Chase we see you we’re coming for you...over and over until it completely filled the screen.
Thereafter, the series has almost an Alice in Wonderland meets Labyrinth sort of feel, but you know, in a good way (I despise Alice in Wonderland, sorry world--but I love me some Labyrinth).  There’s even a dopey Ludo-like character at one point!  When Meghan’s brother is stolen (unfortunately, not by David Bowie) and replaced with a changeling, she’s determined to get him back.  Now, usually, when our innocent heroine encounters Fairyland and it’s rules, I groan.  Because most young ladies upon contact with fairies don’t listen to any of the rules and end up in trouble.  Not Meghan!!  Meghan, dear friends, is smart.  She may not know everything, or get everything 100% (because that would be boring and unrealistic), but she does listen.  She’s clever enough to not repeatedly make mistakes with the fey, and even to bargain with them intelligently.  This made me love her.  She was vulnerable and naive, but that doesn’t mean she’s stupid.  She doesn’t start out tough, but we are able to see her grow and strengthen throughout the course of her journey.
Now, there wasn’t an in-your-face love triangle in The Iron King, but you can see it coming like a mack truck.  I like that I honestly can’t predict which way the romance will go, and that makes reading yet another series with this trope doable.  Of course, I know what way I want it to go, but that’s besides the point...Additionally, I really enjoyed the entire cast.  Every character and creature was excellently described and well-written, and my favorite, by far, was the cat Grimalken.  For anyone who loves the Cheshire Cat in Alice and Wonderland, or enjoys the superiority complex of cats in general, Grimalken is the cat for you.
Finally, I loved the lore presented in this series.  It’s fairly traditional with Mab, Oberon, Titania, faery rules, etc, but there were twists that made the story both current and original.  I don’t want to say too much and give anything away (I can spoil this one in future reviews, right?), but I will say that when everything clicked into place I was enthusiastically surprised.  
Likelihood that I'll be back for more: Already checked out Winter’s Passage and The Iron Daughter!  
Recommended for:  Fans of Alice in Wonderland, Labyrinth, and Wicked Lovely, or anyone who enjoys fantasy and is looking for an interesting twist on Celtic mythology.
Real life repercussions of reading this book: Totes watching Labyrinth.  You’re welcome readers!

Get a second opinion:


  1. I'm so glad you reviewed this. I had it at home for weeks and weeks and didn't read it because it seemed "meh" to me. I think I will pick it up now!

    1. Well, I did like this one, but I really couldn't stand the series thereafter, and am quitting after Iron Daughter, so I'm kind of torn on coaching you on to read it or not. If you can handle another love triangle, and I mean of the most cliche variety possible, then you might be able to handle this series, but it was like the last straw for me on that kind of book.

  2. First of all, THANKS FOR LINKING ME.

    Second, THIS BOOK. I love this series and it very much has to do with Meghan's growth from book to book, Grimalkin, the constant pull between Ash and Puck, AND the faery lore! Julie's world is imaginative, a bit creepy, and fun to get into, and her plots are interesting and engaging. I was never bored with these books! I'm so glad to see you're FINALLY checking out this series, and I hope you keep on with it! The Iron Queen is my favorite in the series and so I can't wait to see what you think of it! :D


    1. Of course, Asher!

      I sorry to say though, I don't think I'm going to make it to Iron Queen. I was really disappointed in Iron Daughter, to the point that I'm impressed I made it through the entire book. It started as such a cool series, I can see why people love it, but it just seemed too cliche relationship-wise for me after the first book.

    2. Okay. This is sad news. I will try to change your mind, because I can see how the Iron Daughter might've bungled things up, even though I didn't feel it. Read this, then read this. She might do a better job of convincing you than I ever could.

    3. Hmm, you know what? That is actually pretty darn convincing. She had all of the same problems with the second book that I did, but loved the third? Well, I'm now very curious if nothing else. They're such quick reads, I suppose it won't hurt to check it out at some point! Still might take a bit of a break though...

  3. HEIDI! The Iron Queen is the best book of the series. Or at least it was my favorite. (Sorry, I should be commenting on your review rather than other comments.) I practically ATE The Iron Queen.

    BUT...this is one of my favorite series. I LOVE the Nevernever, the lore, the faery-ness of this series. (Although I haven't read the Wicked Lovely books - I take it I should?)

    AND Labyrinth forever!


      And no worries, I'm actually happy to have everyone convincing me to keep going with this series. Seeing the out pour of love for Iron Queen has me seriously thinking I'll give it a shot.

      I personally loved Wicked Lovely. It's darker, and instead of following one character throughout the series, it jumps to various characters from book to book while following one storyline. Some people don't like series that do this, but I really did in this case. But then I'm pretty much a Melissa Marr fan girl. :P

  4. I really REALLY need to read this one again. I read it a couple years ago but I didn't really care for it that much. Now that I'm part of a blogging world that seems to be completely in love with the series, I think it's time I give the books another shot.

    1. It's funny how much the blogosphere can affect how we feel about books, eh? Or at least how we think we should feel about them...I try not to read reviews for books I KNOW I'm going to read until after I read them so that my opinion doesn't get too influenced. Good luck if you do decide to reread!

  5. You remind me of the babe! What babe? The babe with the power? Who do? You do!

    Sigh. That will be in my head FOREVA!!

    Also? I really enjoyed The Iron King as well, although I wasn't a huge Ash fan.

    1. THANK YOU! For both those things. Not digging Ash at all. People swear up and down that I'll be all for him when/if I read Iron Queen, but I don't know...

      And you're welcome. I mean, if you're going to have a song in your head forever, make it an AWESOME one, right?


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