Sunday, May 23, 2010

Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Iron Fey, Book 1

Tags: YA, fantasy, faeries, adventure, love triangle


Meghan has always felt out of place with her family and peers. Her family seems not to notice her presence or consider her feelings, her classmates make fun of her backwater residence, and her only friend is her neighbor, Robbie. But one day her little half-brother disappears, and Meghan is forced to open her eyes to the beautiful—and terrifying—world of faerie.

Led by Robbie, who is actually the infamous faery Puck, sent to watch over her while she grew up, Meghan journeys into the faery world to save her brother. There, she learns startling things about her heritage, gets caught up in a faery war, falls for someone dangerous, and learns of the existence of an even greater threat to both faeries and humans that no one knew existed before.


In the interest of full honesty—because full honesty is always funny in situations like this—I will admit that I approached this book with low expectations. I had read the first chapter a few months back and was uncertain as to where I stood with Meghan. The synopsis seemed too ideal YA fantasy to be true: warring faeries, a love triangle, an adventure across worlds and settings. What’s there not to like, and what’s there that hasn’t been done over and over before?

Don’t you just love it when a book proves you wrong?

THE IRON KING is an unbelievably refreshing, charming, and hilarious faerie adventure. This just proves that there is no story that can be overtold: it’s just a matter of how it’s told. And this one is told spectacularly.

All of the characters in this book easily come alive through their uniquely different personalities and sparkling dialogue. In fact, their differences are what make the love triangle so believable and attractive. In most cases the “male best friend who’s been there her whole life” figure would hardly be in the running (think Simon from the Mortal Instruments trilogy), but here, Puck is a classic, fitting his Shakespearean prankster roots yet being adorably memorable. Ash has more of a “quiet, brooding, dangerous supernatural hot guy” thing going on, and yet he doesn’t fall into the cliché, and turns out to be lovable too in his own way. And last but not least, Grimalkin, who has a Cheshire Cat-like presence in the story, while not a part of the love triangle, probably steals the show every time he gets to talk—and rightly so, for there was probably never a more lovably snide character in literature since Lewis Carroll’s classic itself.

More than just character appeal, however, THE IRON KING is also lusciously written. Julie Kagawa is able to perfectly balance vivid description of setting with a plot that continues to move forward. We easily visualize the faery world, in a way that doesn’t interrupt the flow of the novel.

Meghan is an admirably determined protagonist, a cut above the norm. She’s relatable but not annoying in her stubborn rebelliousness. Her character is a little inconsistent at the beginning, when I had pegged for the typical wannabe-popular, obsessed-with-the-football-star teen girl, but she quickly grew into a heroine I could respect and even admire.

Overall, THE IRON KING defied my expectations. I had expected something clichéd and ultimately forgettable; instead, I got something marvelously rich in terms of writing, character, and story. This debut novel has made me an instant fan of Julie Kagawa, and I can hardly wait until the next installment, THE IRON DAUGHTER, is released!

Similar Authors
Holly Black
Richelle Mead
Libba Bray

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 5/5

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 4 out of 5 - G-g-g-gorgeous. I don't really like the model or her expression (it feels too forced), but I love the colors and the intricacies around the face. Want moar please!

Harlequin Teen / Feb. 1, 2010 / Paperback / 368pp. / $9.99

My copy received from trade.

Swing by tomorrow for an interview with Julie and a giveaway!


  1. I ALMOST picked this up at the bookstore today. I'll have to grab it next time.

  2. Oh I gotta agree, I was HIGHLY doubtful of this one, then a friend recommended it, and WOW - I loved it too and I am NOT a fairy person either! :) Wonderful review! I cant wait to see what you think of The Iron Daughter!

  3. I love this book too! I didn't know what to expect when I first starting reading, but I ended up loving it too! Nice review.

  4. I won't lie, I'm still pretty doubtful despite nothing but good things about it. I'm just wary of faeries in general :o maybe I'll get around to reading this

  5. Awesome review! I LOVED this one too! It deinitely breaks the fairy mold.

  6. VERY nice review, Steph! I haven't read this one yet - was holding off since it seemed somewhat similar to Wings / Spells (which I was considering reading soon), but I'm glad to hear it is so memorable. I'm excited! :)

  7. I haven't heard a bad thing about this book yet! I think that's a sign saying I should read it...

  8. why oh why do they have to look so girly?? no boy in my library (and I only have boys) would pick that up, I suspect...


  9. I'm surprised but pleased this one broke with your expectations, because they're exactly what I expect from it! Maybe I'll be surprised too if I get round to this one...

  10. Woo! So glad you enjoyed this one so much. It doesn't sound like something I would normally pick up, but that's usually when I'm the most surprised by books. Sounds great, and I love that cover, too!

  11. Lovely review. I think you've got me hooked.

  12. Wow, great review! I've been hesitant about this one since my previous faerie-readings have been disappointing. But your review make it sound like I would maybe enjoy it after all!

  13. Everyone loved this series, the covers are gorgeous.

    I don't remember them being on 2010 favourite lists though, hmmm.

    I'm using your review for a scavenger hunt Steph.


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