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Julie Kagawa – The Iron Daughter

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When things aren’t as fantastical as before, it can get a little dull.

Publisher: Mira Ink (Harlequin)
Pages: 395
Type: Fiction
Age: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-0-7783-0446-3
First Published: 2010
Date Reviewed: 19th July 2011
Rating: 3/5

Meghan’s back in faeryland, held captive by Queen Mab. But defeating the Iron fey wasn’t as easy as killing the king, and when the Sceptre of Seasons, a vital element in keeping the mortal world in check, goes missing, there’s only one group of people that could have taken it; and only one human, a prince, an elf, and a cat, who know who they need to find.

The Iron Daughter is the second book in Kagawa’s faery series, and although it begins well and indeed ends with a lot of promise, the main bulk of the book suffers from the same bad quality that Torment and New Moon do – pressure to keep the series going as long as possible. It’s not a bad book, per se, but it does rumble along down paths that you know it could have done without, and loses the true fantastical atmosphere that The Iron King had.

The most obvious issue is with the reiterating of what happened before. Yes, it is useful sometimes to reiterate an event that happened in the previous book in a series, it can help those who might be reading the books in a different order to feel they know what’s going on, but there is a subtlety to doing it right and unfortunately Kagawa has made a mess of it. Instead of giving a few brief words on events at the start of the book, Kagawa gives a summary that lasts for most of the first chapter and then, throughout the rest of the book, continually has Meghan explaining events in great detail unnecessarily. It all seems rather like the author had a word count to fill and when the going got tough she filled it with repetition instead. A reader doesn’t want to be nearing the end of the book still being “reminded” about what happened in the last one, they want instead to be reading a climax.

There are the usual revelations that aren’t really revelations, like Meghan being surprised that Ash doesn’t actually hate her and was only pretending to be harsh in order to save her (this isn’t a spoiler since it’s at the start of the book and obvious from page one to any reader worth their salt), and a lot of time spent on things that could have been given a sentence rather than a whole chapter – this is different to the repetition issue and concerns things like shopping.

Kagawa references a lot of popular media to illustrate what she is trying to say, and although it dates the book and means that it may be difficult for future readers to understand, you can see why she has done it and it does amply explain why Meghan wants to be home – because her life is so full of films and music and therefore the technology that is not compatible with the faery world. But there needed to be more research for things like theatre where she talks about The Phantom of the Opera being a play – which it was originally, following on from the book, but when she mentions organs, it is clear that she is talking about the musical, and few people would refer to this musical as a play.

So the book goes on and on, tripping up on additional plot points and taking forever to get somewhere. Just when you think the characters are going to move on to the next part of the story, someone says they’ve hurt themselves, or an enemy comes along and kidnaps them all, and it simply comes across as forced. About 75% of the book could have been stripped away and the result would have been a very good novel, if short.

The romance is as angsty as ever, and strong, and joyfully I can report that Ash, the hero, doesn’t leave Meghan for very long. In that way, the cover of my copy which pronounces it the next Twilight was wrong. In fact this book and the series as a whole is nothing like Twilight except for the elements of love triangle and high school. The set-up itself, of the bad guys not having been eliminated in the first book, is as acceptable a format as ever in literature, and although Meghan can be very weak at times, she does make an effort when she can. There wasn’t any reason why this book couldn’t have been as good as the first, The Iron King.

But it is just so under whelming.

The potential for the third book, The Iron Queen, is good, and hopefully Kagawa will return to the fantastically magical feel that she created for The Iron King. Thankfully The Iron Daughter isn’t so bad that it will put a reader off from continuing the series, because the relationship between Meghan and Ash is worth following; but for all the glitter on the cover, this book contains little of the glamour to merit it not being looked over in favour of a fast track to the third book.

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