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Julie Kagawa – The Iron Queen

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The first was good, the second bad; the third is rather special.

Publisher: Mira Ink (Harlequin)
Pages: 358
Type: Fiction
Age: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-0-778-30479-1
First Published: 25th January 2011
Date Reviewed: 23rd June 2013
Rating: 4.5/5

The battle for the Nevernever isn’t over. Called back from exile, Meghan is ordered by King Oberon to slay the new Iron King as the Nevernever loses ground and faces ultimate defeat. Together with Ash, Puck, and the cat Grimalkin, it’s up to the mortal to save fairyland from the burgeoning power of technology.

If we consider that the previous book in this series, The Iron Daughter, was but a filler, then The Iron Queen picks up from where The Iron King left off, bringing back the wonderment present at the start of the series. Kagawa is back on target and it must be said that whilst she doesn’t make the most of all the opportunities created by her stunning premise (technology threatening traditional imagination) she has certainly stepped up her game.

Meghan, the half-human heroine, is stronger this time and is becoming quite the powerful character. Though still silly at times, for example she says a trip was a waste of time despite being given an item deemed necessary by someone in the know, and seeming to never have seen a musical notation despite having a musical father, she has surely come into her own, being now rather bearable, it could be said, for most readers. Her kindness towards the Iron fey is at once surprising and utterly understandable – Meghan is very much a person of both the old world and the new, seeing the possibility of both co-existing whereas the older realm of course see the Iron world as the destruction of mankind.

In a style instantly recognisable as typical of fantasy storytelling, Kagawa creates another force of evil for the older fae to fight. And whilst there are romantic scenes a plenty, there are few occasions where deep discussions go on too long during battles – in other words the pacing and placement of dialogue is realistic.

Kagawa has reintroduced the epic nature of her story and her usage of Shakespeare’s work is an obvious foundation which she never strays from. The story looks into the dark side of fairytales but there is little to shock or feel uncomfortable about as it’s more a basic backdrop.

Being that Meghan is from our world and Puck has lived there a long time, the contemporary vocabulary and slang fits perfectly. It may jolt you out of the story for a moment but you soon remember that this is far from a case of Kagawa simply seeking to emulate your typical teen story, here the wording is appropriate. It also reminds you that humanity is never far from Meghan’s thoughts.

Meghan isn’t quite the leader you might expect, a somewhat indecisive and stubborn girl in love, but then given the title of the book you knew what to expect anyway. And it must be said that in the case of this series, the titles letting you know the subject of that particular book isn’t as much of a spoiler as you would have thought at the start.

One of the themes of the series is loyalty, and here it is used more than before. A lot of lore is employed to make a comparison between faery and our world, for example to show how Meghan wouldn’t feel for the lack of marriage in the realm, and to some extent Kagawa demonstrates how even the dark faery world can have its trust and vows. This is of course shown through the continuing romance between Meghan and Ash (readers may be happy to hear that Kagawa isn’t going to insist on continuing the triangle) and whilst Kagawa lets the relationship take on a fantastical atmosphere – of the knights and chivalry sort – she doesn’t shy from introducing contemporary views to the book, either.

So there is little time spent on the actual premise of technology taking over traditional dreams (meaning the logistics of it), which would have made an even better book, but it can’t be said that The Iron Queen isn’t a good book. Because it is a very good book.

Read The Iron King, skip The Iron Daughter, and move onto The Iron Queen. The characters will not always delight, and the incessant eye-rolling is… incessant, but the overall atmosphere might just create that magic for you that the fae surely hope for.

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August 21, 2013, 12:38 pm

I’ve tried to pick these up a couple of times, but the first few pages haven’t grabbed me. But they’re so popular, and your review makes it sound as if it is worth enduring some eye rolling! :–)

Jenny @ Reading the End

August 23, 2013, 6:06 pm

Oh I can’t decide with these books. I started reading The Iron King and thought it was pretty silly and sort of standard YA paranormal romance, but the sequels sound like they get into some interesting territory. Maybe I should just wait until I’m less cranky with YA as a whole.



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