The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

8 Mar 2015 by

Meghan Chase is horrified to discover that her four-year-old half-brother, Ethan, has been stolen away by the monsters in his closet. He’d warned her, and she had not listened. She had not seen. Kagawa updates the fantastical world widely spread through Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the modern Iron Court and its technological travesties. Characters Puck, Oberon, Titania, and Mab feature key roles.

The Iron KingSynopsis

It’s Chase’s sixteenth birthday, which means she has come of age and will soon see the fey that live and play all around her. Her birthday isn’t a day of celebration, though, as her well-loved brother Ethan has been stolen away from their home, a struggling pig farm in Louisiana, and replaced with a vicious changeling who quickly attacked their mother.  She hadn’t expected much from her birthday; her life thus far hadn’t been that spectacular. Her father had disappeared – not died, not run away, but disappeared – when she was six, his shoes left beside a pond in a park. Her mother remarried and moved them to the pig farm where they joined the working-hard-but-still-poor class, and her new stepfather roundly ignored her. Ethan was a bright spot, though, and she had been looking forward to getting her driving permit. All in all, Meghan was a normal teenager, struggling to fit into a young world where money and belongings gave you a status she did not have.  Of course, she really did.

Meghan’s best friend, Robbie Goodfell, was by her side when they learned that Ethan had been replaced. Unfortunately, Robbie had been keeping a terrible secret from her all these years. His real name is Robin Goodfellow, better known as Puck. He offers Meghan the choice of ignorance or terrible and frightening knowledge. Of course, she chooses the knowledge in order to save her brother. Off Puck takes her into the world of the Faery on a seemingly-doomed rescue mission.  After some mishaps and complications, Meghan lands herself at the Summer Court and learns that King Oberon had seduced Meghan’s mother seventeen years before, and all those times that Robbie had called her princess weren’t just an annoying affectation.Guardians 2017 live streaming film online

Confused and bewildered by the world she is surrounded by, Meghan makes a series of impulsive choices and is off on an adventure to save her brother in a world where no one, except Puck, truly cares about her. She begins to gather a troupe of co-conspirators as she bargains her way through the tricky lands, one of which is the youngest son of Queen Mab. A prince of the Winter Court, he is cold as ice and just as quietly threatening. Meghan doesn’t know where he stands, but she knows she will need his help to find her brother in this strange land.

Read an Excerpt at Harlequin!

Review: The Nitty Gritty

Kagawa includes a slew of the traditional, mythical characters of European legends  – chimera, dryads, satyrs, goblins, gremlins, ogres, trolls – but also includes some new antiheroes in the modern Iron Court. The new and old characters remain archetypical in their classic roles, true to both the myths they are drawn from and also the standard romantic formula that comes part and parcel with any Harlequin novel.  Each character does have a distinctive personality and voice with individualized details, but don’t expect any surprises to those details. As is concerning with many romantic tales, the romance itself is unreasonable and unconvincing in its origin, but is also played off very lightly in the novel. Its lack of depth and strength in this first book could allow the author to make a more convincing romance down the road, if the way it plays out isn’t bumbled. True love at first sight is more rare than fiction makes it out to be, and is overplayed. Luckily, so far, it seems to be more of an attraction between the characters and not an attempt to claim true love.

The interesting aspect of this novel comes from the addition of the Iron Court. The descriptions of this new realm are only slightly more involved than those of America in its current setting (roughly the 2010s), the Winter Court, and the Summer Court, which follow the literature as it stands. I don’t want to give anything away by describing more of the plot or setting, but I will say that overall, the setting plays second or third fiddle to the plot itself. It’s lightly described and mostly irrelevant. This does help create a more dreamy atmosphere where the reader has to summon up their own knowledge of these places to fill in the details.

The plot is driven by the themes incorporated in this book, which are not surprising: coming of age/sweet sixteen, developing a relationship based upon physical attraction despite initial emotional abhorrence, rags to princess riches, loyalty to friends and family, the inclusion of a best friend or protector who has been lying to you “for your own good,” belief powers the mystical, technology is poisoning the world and our world is wasteful, boy saves incapable girl, vows and promises are solemn, and the female’s only strength is her stubbornness,  impulsive decision making, and loyalty to others. There are no real twists or overt lessons in this novel, and it is mildly annoying that the central female character is portrayed (once again) as this bumbling character who makes rash decisions based upon emotion which lands her into the stew pot where she needs some logical, strong, and trained male character to save her. Detractors of my viewpoint will probably claim that she is portrayed as a strong feminine character. How? Just because she makes (bad) decisions instead of wringing her hands?

One of the strengths of the book, which I’ve already harped on, is that there is not the over-the-top obsessive and melodramatic “love at first sight” nonsense, although the author is definitely treading dangerous water with the choices she’s made for the characters, wherein it could go either way in the sequels.

Kagawa has a very fluid, economical, and clear (or perhaps over-edited) writing style, which is lacking in individual personality, but easy to follow. The novel is pretty light emotionally, with little investment on the part of the reader, which makes it a great story for passing the time. The storyline is straightforwardly easy to follow with no real complexity. The elements of the story are imaginative, but practical. No leaps of faith are needed to assume the events could really happen, since they are based so heavily on concepts presented in the body of literature for many hundreds of years.

One last note – there really isn’t much in the way of inclusions. No maps or character lists. They really aren’t needed, though. There is a graphic printed on each of the chapter pages that resembles thorny vines. The cover is attractive, but you can see that for yourself. It does relate back to the story.

The Takeaway

All of these characteristics of the novel make it a great book for young teens that are dreaming ahead to their own coming of age and wishing that they, too, could have an epic adventure. They should be able to relate, as well, to the idea of waste and our modern world poisoning our environment around us. The sexual content is very light with some chaste and mild descriptions of kissing. The end feeling is one of relaxation.


The Iron King
Book One of The Iron Fey
by Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Imprint: HarlequinTEEN
Published February 2010 Pages: 363
Review Source: library Review Format: paperback
ISBN: 13-978-0-373-21008-4 Finished on March 8, 2015

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