Review: The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
“My Name Is Meghan Chase.
In less than twenty-four hours, I’ll be seventeen.
Deja vu, right? Shocking how quickly time can pass you by like you’re standing still. I can’t believe it’s been a year since that day. The day I went into Faery. The day that changed my life forever.
Technically, I won’t actually be turning seventeen. I’ve been in the Nevernever too long. When you’re in Faery, you don’t age, or you age so slowly it’s not worth mentioning. So, while a year has passed in the real world, I’m probably only a few days older than when I went in.
In real life I’ve changed so much I don’t even recognize myself.” – Ch. 1
So I did the unthinkable. I dove into this series at book three. I know, I know, I deserve to be shot. The thing is, I ran out of time to read the first two books (and the novella) before this installment came out and so I had decided to pass altogether. I had decided that I would hopefully get to them all sometime before The Iron Knight came out later this year and could give a coherent review.
But, the thing kept pulling at me, gnawing at me really, whenever I saw it on my e-reader. And when a copy from an ARC tour I had completely forgotten about arrived on my doorstep last week, I fully intended to send it on to the next person unread. But then… I made a mistake. I picked it up and flipped through it. Is it horrible to say that’s all it took? Maybe it will balance out my book snobbery a bit if I just go ahead and admit, I can be just as shallow at times as I am snobbish. The cover was enchanting, and then, you open the thing up and there are vines weaving their way through the pages. Maybe it was the fact that I was in the middle of a stressful move and worrying way too much about the plot problems in my own work in progress, but I suddenly felt very sure that I simply wanted to melt into those pages. And so, back story be damned, I did.
I know it’s always a delicate thing for an author to try and decide, several books into a series how much of the previous tales need to be included. I always feel it is a fabulously done series if I can pick up any book out of the series and not feel like I’m missing something, not feel like the story I’m reading is incomplete, not feel like I can’t get it without reading the other books. Julie Kagawa, I am proud to report, managed this difficult feat with awesome finesse.
The Iron Queen was exactly what I needed it to be: a fast paced, imaginative, easy read filled with romance and fae and adventure and magic and most of all enchantment. It was altogether the perfect escape. Although I didn’t need to have read the previous installments to get through this, it definitely hooked me on the series. I now want to know as much as I can about these fabulous characters and the amazing assortment of creatures I encountered along the way. Meghan as the heroine has a huge character arc in this book, and I loved it. She goes from a frightened, defeated, girl in love to someone who commands my respect because step by step throughout this book, she has done what was required to earn it.
And then of course, there’s Ash. I have been hearing the online swooning over Ash since even before the first book was released. I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the idea of another gorgeous immortal with supernatural powers coming in and swooping our heroine off her feet. I was pretty much prepared to hate the guy, just on the principal of the matter. It’s been done. It’s so been done to death and back again. Now obviously, we’re at book three here, so the majority of the back-story of the relationship developing between these two has happened in the previous two books. We get hints and reminders of it here and there, which for me was perfect. But, as much as I wanted to hate the guy, I couldn’t. He even comes across all perfect and godlike in the beginning, but what I loved about Ash is how he’s guarded. You don’t quite know what’s going on inside his head most the time (until the next book folks!) but the glimpses we get, show us someone damaged and imperfect. He’s jealous and pouty and overprotective and refreshingly he’s not the one calling the shots or leading the way in this book. Meghan is. But he’s her knight. Case closed. I’m sorry, but any man who is willing to swear to do anything, ANYTHING I desire and defend me to the death as we head into enemy territory, gets a piece of my heart.
But honestly, chivalry aside – the longing between these two is palpable and it’s simply delicious to watch as it builds throughout the book and matures into something even more profound. And so, despite my best efforts to stand for originality, I have to forfeit this one to Ash, without reservations. I’m honestly more than a bit excited for the next book, The Iron Knight which tells the next part of the tale from Ash’s perspective.
The story really is well told. It’s YA, but it balances perfectly on the line between feeling young and innocent and coming off as juvenile or worse yet, amateur. It’s action packed, fast paced and I kept waiting for the writing to trip me up, or pull me out of the story. It never did. Instead, I found myself engrossed in this world and getting a little emotional towards the end of the book, which I wasn’t quite expecting considering that I hadn’t had the full three books to get to know these characters. But it says something to me that their actions in this one were enough on their own to earn my emotional support. In fact, I’m still not exactly sure how I feel about the ending. My heart’s a little torn. I keep running over it in my mind. I just keep coming to the conclusion that I simply want more of it all.
The whole concept behind the Iron Fey is I have to say, pretty outstanding. The technological, modern industrial world, encroaching upon and poisoning the ancient magic of Faery. I just kind of love it. It’s almost as if the worlds of Narnia and A Midsummer Night’s Dream are quite literally at war with Star trek’s Borg and both geeky sides of myself were giddy at the prospect of it. I mean really. Stop and think about that image for just a second. Now, how can you resist reading something that cool?
The Iron Queen is Book 3 in the Iron Fey series. The first two books and the novella that takes place between them were released last year. (The Iron King – Feb 1, 2010; Winter’s Passage (novella) – June 1st, 2010; and The Iron Daughter – Aug 1, 2010). I have to call that a heck of a debut season. Book #4, The Iron Knight has an expected release date of Nov 2011 and will continue the story where it left off, but from Ash’s point of view. That’s all Julie has said so far on the subject, but she’s reportedly working on an apocalyptic vampire series (as of now untitled) to be released by Harlequin Teen sometime in 2012 so we’re not quite sure if Knight will be the end of the Iron Fey saga or not. I know thousands of teenagers who are hoping right now, not!
Cover Story: B -
I can’t actually hate this cover, because the model is gorgeous and she’s pretty perfect for Meghan. (Although if and when a movie gets made we totally vote for Taylor Swift FYI) The vines totally work for me inside the book and especially on the first two books covers, but the pink on this one is just too girlie. My eight year old niece saw me reading it and wanted in. I had to tell her she was a little young yet. I have nothing against the color pink, I adore it in measured doses, but I think the juvenile tone doesn’t do a fantastic job of letting us know what to expect from this book. I think, “fairy princess love story”. Period. And this book is sooo much more than that. I’d hate for potential readers to be turned off because there is nothing to give away the awesome of the book from this cover.
Besides sporting the most gorgeous silver streaked hair in the known universe, Julie Kagawa is a self-professed gamer, reader, animal whisperer and all-around cool gal. (Ok, she didn’t actually profess the cool gal part, we did. Seriously, check out her blog if you don’t believe me, it’s almost as addicting as the books). She gets bonus points from me for growing up in Hawaii and surviving the atrocious bugs there for longer than I did, and we’ll throw one in from Jonesy as well, because Julie actually swam in the shark-infested waters and obviously lived to tell her tales!
Where to find Julie:
ARC Courtesy of Star Book Tours (& Publisher via NetGalley)
Title: The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
Series: Iron Fey #3
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Format: Paperback, 358 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Teen (January 25, 2011)
Need More Iron Fey?
We thought so. Visit the official Iron Fey site to:
- Read Ch. 1 of all 3 books
- Download Winter’s Passage FREE until April, 2011
- Get The Iron King Desktop Wallpapers, Widgets and More!