Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa — 368 pgs

The Iron Queen (Harlequin Teen)Meghan Chase, a half human and half faerie girl, is finally coming home to her human family after being drawn deeply into the faerie world in order to battle the Iron Fey. But just as Meghan and her companion and lover Ash, prince of the winter realm, finally reach Meghan’s home, she’s accosted by malicious servants of the Iron Fey and dragged back into the all-consuming war that is taking over the faerie realm. It’s only Meghan and Ash’s quick thinking and use of their faerie power, called glamour, that they escape unscathed. But just when Meghan thinks she’s free, she’s summoned by her father, the Summer King, and offered a reprieve of her exile from the faerie world. If Meghan agrees to assassinate the new Iron King, she’ll be granted freedom to travel between the human and faerie worlds again. This doesn’t hold that much interest for Meghan, who is happy enough leaving faerie behind, but when she realizes the Summer and Winter Fey are at the mercy of the Iron Fey who wish to destroy them and their realms, Meghan agrees. Traveling with her on her journey are the same group of friends who have done battle with her previously, including the serious and loyal Ash, the ever instigating Puck and the adorably coy cat Grimalken. Will Meghan and her cohorts arrive in time to save the world of faerie from the Iron Fey and their murderous king? Fans of the Iron Fey series will relish Meghan’s continuing journey through the land of faerie and will be at the edge of their seats in this, their most suspenseful encounter yet.

I felt slightly hindered while I was reading and now while reviewing this book, as I haven’t read the previous books in the series. While I obviously know that it would have been much better to start with the first two books, I thought it would be interesting to see if this one would be able to stand alone without having read the others in the series. I guess the answer to that is a bit mixed. While I do think one can enjoy this book as a standalone because much care is given to review the various plot points of the other two books, there were certain important points that I never really could understand. Things like, what exactly were the Iron Fey and how did they come to be? And why were all the fairy worlds at war?

One thing I really liked about this book, and which will make me interested in going back and picking up the first two, was the great world-building that Kagawa succeeds in delivering. There are all sorts of strange locations and rules to these worlds, and where she really got me was in her great imagination when it came to all the creatures that populate her faerie realms. If there was ever a book that would keep you entranced with all the odd creatures you could imagine, this wold be that book. Tree people and great metallic bugs, talking cats and mechanical gremlins: this book had it all. It would be interesting to go back and see this world from its inception and see just how intricately developed the world-building is from the beginning. As such, it was the kind of book that always surprised me and kept me on my toes because I never knew what kind of creature or setting I was going to find myself reading about. As far as creativity goes, I would have to give Kagawa high marks for the type of creation she undertakes.

The storyline, while a little convoluted, was also easy to get invested in. The only reason I mention that it was a bit convoluted is the same reason I stumbled over other parts of the book, and that’s because of my lack of background and frame of reference. Overall the book had a wonderfully organic feeling plot and it didn’t feel like there was too much reliance on coincidence or an over orchestration of events that might make things feel forced and overdone. I also liked that it wasn’t predictable and that I had trouble guessing what was going to happen next in relation to the plot and character interactions. I often find that books which are the most creative and inventive are also the ones where things feel least predictable, and in this case, the verve and wit of the characters and scenarios was both interesting and fantastical. The only thing that mildly irked me was that it contained a token love triangle that I thought the story could do without. Because of this triple-sided love affair things seemed a lot more angst-y, and as such, I was never able to forget that this was a book that was targeted to a YA audience. The crossover potential could have been huge had this not been the case, but because of its inclusion, the potential appeal to adult readers is somewhat diminished.

While I do wish I had started this series at the beginning, I think the narrative undertaken in this book was just about good enough to stand alone, and I was surprised at how invested I got in Meghan’s story. I think the crucial element was the world building and the creature creation, so if that is your bag too, I think you‘d really find a lot here to entice you and capture your interest. I hear that there will be a fourth book, called The Iron Knight, and hopefully after I’ve caught up on the first two books, The Iron Knight will be available for my perusal as well. A fun romp of a read that will help you escape those hot summer days.


This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.

14 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I've heard so much about these books, and so I tried to read the first book in the series, but just couldn't get into it. I may try again one of these days, however!

Amy said...

I think that is a pretty good sign if you can read book three and enjoy it and want to read the earlier ones!

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I have heard a lot about these books and have been considering picking them up. I would be too scared to pick up a series book out of order, though! It's interesting to know that the book works on its own, definitely holds promise for the other books in the series. Thanks for an insightful review, Heather!

Suko said...

Another thoughtful review! This is not the type of book I usually read, but I like the fact that you found it unpredictable.

Darlene said...

I've always thought that this series sounded good but I never got started on them. One of these days I'll have to change that when I'm in the mood for a book like this. I'll have to start at the beginning though. I'm so crazy a out doing that.

celawerdblog said...

This sounds like a great book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Jenners said...

I imagine it would be hard to read and review a book like this starting from a few books in. Not only do these books almost require you to have a prior understanding of the world, it would be tough to jump in to the middle of an epic like this. Great job though!

Marg said...

I really want to read this series, but I will be starting at the beginning as I find it really difficult to read a series out of order.

Geosi said...

It looks like you enjoyed this one and so I look forward to your reviews of the others.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I have to give you credit for one, starting mid-series, and two jumping into this genre. I will admit, I've never read anything with faeries in the plot, as it holds absolutely no superficial interest with me. I know that is close-minded. I probably need to try them just to say I have given an effort.

Jenny said...

I started to read the first one mainly because I loved the cover and the design on the pages, LOL. I learned that I still do not care for fantasy but I'm glad you seemed to like it. It definitely sounds like a fun series.

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

My mind is not accustomed to reading fantasy novels, though this sound interesting. One thing I find difficult with series is the ability to sustain interest till the end. And I am happy to hear this was handled excellently.

TheBookGirl said...

Some lighter reading :)

I am far too compulsive to be able to intentionally read a series out of order, lol. It is good to know that these books can be read and enjoyed out of sequence. Fantasy is generally not a genre I read, but all the talk about these books does pique my interest.

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

I definitely think reading the first 2 would have made it easier. YA isn't really known for making all history clear in the newest edition in the series.

I really enjoyed these :)

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