The Iron Queen (Review)

Title: The Iron Queen

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publication Year: 2011

Pages: 368

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who’s sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I’m not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.

(This is the third book in the series, after The Iron KingWinter’s Passage (novella), and The Iron Daughter.)

I really liked this book. It seemed almost as if it was written as the end of a trilogy, the way that the characters really grew into their strengths and struggled to defeat their weaknesses, coming together in the end. And yet it isn’t really the end! That made it all the more exciting for me, because it meant that there would be more adventures in the same book-world to come.

The final showdown between Meghan and the iron fey was really quite fantastic. It was so different from most of the fae stories that I’ve read since then, managing to be unique in the use of different weaknesses – such as the stereotypical weakness to iron, and flipping this on its head – for the different types of fae.

I also really loved how Ash’s character has developed throughout the books until now. In the beginning, I didn’t really like him, but he’s grown on me, especially in this latest book.

The ending was a bit unexpected, but I don’t want to spoil it. Let’s just say that you won’t be disappointed by The Iron Queen. It’s definitely my favourite in the series so far.

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The Iron Daughter (Review)

Title: The Iron Daughter

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 304

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey — ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan’s own fey powers have been cut off. She’s stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can’t help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.

(This is the second book in the series, after The Iron King and Winter’s Passage (novella).)

This book fleshed out the major groups in the series a bit more for me. Since this is the first series about the fae that I’ve really gotten into, my knowledge of the whole “Seelie/Unseelie court” thing was very much lacking. So I found that aspect of the plot an interesting distraction from some of the more mundane things going on.

For starters, the whole “why-did-he-abandon-me-I-thought-he-loved-me” thing? Kind of getting old as a cliché in young adult fiction. I find it irritating to read, even if I know it’s really the most realistic plot device to use in a specific situation. (Oh, and the “only-we-know-something-that-everyone-else-claims-is-nonsense schtick? I feel about the same way about it, too.)

As the story progressed, though, I became less irritated and got more into what was happening. I liked the way that the characters were fleshed out farther so that we could get to know them better, and the way that Kagawa elaborated on the world of Faery. The Iron Daughter definitely kept up the expectations I had from the beginning of the series.

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Winter’s Passage (Review)

Title: Winter’s Passage

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 51

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Source: E-book borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Meghan Chase used to be an ordinary girl…until she discovered that she is really a faery princess. After escaping from the clutches of the deadly Iron Fey, Meghan must follow through on her promise to return to the equally dangerous Winter Court with her forbidden love, Prince Ash. But first, Meghan has one request: that they visit Puck — Meghan’s best friend and servant of her father, King Oberon — who was gravely injured defending Meghan from the Iron Fey.

Yet Meghan and Ash’s detour does not go unnoticed. They have caught the attention of an ancient, powerful hunter — a foe that even Ash may not be able to defeat….

(This is a novella in the Iron Fey series, after The Iron King.)

I didn’t read this novella until after I had read another book in the series, so I knew something that happened, but didn’t know exactly what until I came back to it.

Winter’s Passage is a cute little side story. It fills in some details and expands on the relationships between Meghan, Ash, and Puck, but isn’t really vital to the overall story arc of the series.I liked reading it, and you probably will too, if you enjoyed The Iron King. But don’t expect any big series reveals or anything like that.

Rating:

The Iron King (Review)

Title: The Iron King

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 368

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny — one she could never have imagined…

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth — that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

I had heard tons of great things about this series a few years ago when it first came out, but I kind of ignored it. I tend to stay away from the uber popular YA series (or one-off books) when they first come out. Maybe it’s the hype I try to stay away from? Or maybe it’s because I always have so many books that I plan to get to, that they get pushed to the bottom of the list?

I’m not sure. Either way, it took me until now to get around to reading The Iron King. And when I finally did, I was a bit disappointed that I had waited so long.

Kagawa did an absolutely fantastic job with this book. I love reading about supernatural creatures, but the fae have never really been something I’m that interested in. That’s changed a bit lately, in large part due to this series.

I loved, in particular, the mixing of traditional fairy stories – the Seelie and Unseeli courts, for instance – with the modern interpretation that the author threw into the mix. Adding a fairy race that’s based on new technology, and that’s impervious – even strengthened? – by iron, something that’s usually seen as deadly to fae, was a rather interesting twist. I didn’t love the way that so many of the iron fae were shown as being evil or wanting to destroy the rest of the fae, but I understood why it had to be that way to fit into the story.

I also loved the use of characters from myth and literature in the book. It was fun to have Robin turn out to be Puck, and to watch him acting like a trickster with Meghan and everyone else. But it also wasn’t overplayed, which I think was important.

Definitely pick up this series if you haven’t already. I wish I hadn’t waited so long.

Rating:

The Graveyard Book (Review)

Title: The Graveyard Book

Author: Neil Gaiman

Publication Year: 2008

Pages: 336 (audio length: 7 hours 47 minutes)

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com

From the cover:

It takes a graveyard to raise a child.

Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy — an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack — who has already killed Bod’s family.

This was the second of Gaiman’s books that I read (after American Gods and before Coraline), and it basically convinced me that I had to continue working through his backlist.

First of all, who can beat the premise of the story? A kid growing up in a graveyard? That’s just plain awesome. And the way that Gaiman tells it, Bod seems to be having just as good – if not better – of an upbringing as any other child. Plus he’s got the whole place looking out for his safety and well-being. What better way to explore the “it takes a village to raise a child” proverb than to have a graveyard full of guardians in charge?

The graveyard in the story is also part of the appeal. Based loosely on Highgate Cemetery in London, Gaiman does a really great job of making the “graveyard” come to life. The beauty of the monuments and the landscaping really shines through the pages. The supernatural occurrences and the fight for Bod really fit into the setting, adding to its appeal in a symbiotic way rather than just ignoring the graveyard as purely background.

If you’re looking to start out reading Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book would definitely be one of my top picks for where to start.

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