Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Faeries are an addiction for me. The only ones I haven't read about are Melissa Marrs, and I kick myself every day for not getting in on that series yet. Faeries are these kick ass creatures that can be amazingly beautiful, gay, and far-out personalities that can also be extremely evil and conniving. It's like they are some of the best characters for me. They speak to who I am. Not to mention I find faerie heroes to be extremely sexy, but that's more of a personal matter than a literary one. Between this border-line fetish and the amazing cover of the Iron King (seriously, I pick this thing up and just look at it sometimes) I HAD to read it soon. HAD. The universe was calling this book to me. The universe has yet to lose its touch.
Having your brother replaced by a changeling isn't something you want to happen on your sixteenth birthday. Not that Meghan Chase had any say in the matter. Her best-friend Puck, who has been there forever, also admits to being a faerie. Like, with magical powers and the ability to actually know what the hell a changeling is. He offers Meghan a way out of knowing these things - about knowing that there is more to the world, that faeries really exist - with a sip of enchanted wine ala The Matrix. Instead, Meghan decides to go and find her brother. Puck drags himself along and shows Meghan the Nevernever, where the fae originated.
Meghan and Puck enter through the wyldwood, an area of Nevernever that isn't protected by the Seelie or Unseelie courts. Wild fae from kelpies to goblins roam the area, and more than once they are met with an experience much too close to death for comfort. Meghan also meets up with a new companion - a cat-like cait sith named Grimalkin that offers to take her to the Seelie court when Puck is indisposed by a hunting party. For a fee, of course. When Meghan manages to get into the Seelie court, she's shocked with a startling revelation about her lineage and connection to Puck. When one of the princes of the Unseelie court comes into play - and Ash is one heck of a player in Meghan's eyes - things only get more confusing.
Ash. Puck. ASH. PUCK. I haven't ever had this much trouble choosing between a love triangle. Usually I am tolerant of them and nothing more. I mean, the love triangle thing is a little overdone in paranormal romance these days. Meghan will have a hard time choosing. Until then, I get both boys. *cough cough*
The characterization really is well done. Meghan is a strong character that manages to actually think more than not, and she deals with her situations like I would expect a teenager to. Also loved the way she was more action than 'I'll wait and see what happens to me'. Gotta love a character that actually does things. Puck was such an adorable childhood friend and love interest for me. His connection to A Midsummer Night's Dream was also really cool. He wasn't an off-putting type of trickster, which was really surprising. Normally I despise that type of personality, but on Puck it was redeeming. Grimalkin was fun fun fun. Knowing Julie Kagawa is a gamer, I loved the influence I saw in Grimalkin and his fae species (Final Fantasy VII anyone?) Ash was just a sexy beast that I wanted to lick up. Think of Patch-sexy. Yeah. Like that.
The plot was both wonderfully original yet derivative. Think in the vein of Harry Potter. There are plot references to Shakespeare, Lewis Caroll, and other famous works, and plot wise it will easily remind readers of books like Chris Wooding's Poison (girl's brother taken by changeling) and Tithe (girl is really a fae). For being such a reminiscent book, though, readers will not mind. What Julie Kagawa does really well is combine all these elements into a story that is decidedly her own. Not to mention it's a lot more action packed than Tithe, and Poison pretty much had similar theme on one area.
I also enjoyed the deep thematic connections between Meghan's journey and Alice's in Alice in Wonderland, with her fae pacts equivalents to drinking the bottles and eating the food. Of course, Meghan's a lot different from Alice, and actually has character development (Alice is unique in the sense that her journey is one that isn't supposed to change her character). Between all of the scrapes Meghan gets in and the tension between her, Ash, and Puck, the reader will throw most of this introspection out the window and focus on the hot men and the girl that comes between them.
Writing style is also worked really well in The Iron King. There are books and series like House of Night that employ a mass-description type of style, and there are books like The Iron King that describe much better and get more of an image for me. Kagawa uses just enough of it to give me an image, and as one who likes description, it's appreciated, but instead of doing mass paragraph after paragraph of it, she uses a higher quality of language and metaphor that makes me feel like I'm reading a better book. I usually don't really care how authors incorporate it, but her descriptions were a favorite part of mine. I could imagine every scene without any trouble or question of her intentions, and that's a big deal for me. Also, it gave me a better way to picture Ash shirtless. Yum. But that's off-topic.
Don't pass up this book. I will bite you if you do. *nom* I haven't been this excited for a series in a long time. Or an author, for that matter. That should tell you something. As would the gushing. I am going to stop now before I make a fool of myself...
Cover Comments: This is an orgasm cover. There is no other way to describe it. Just perfection. If they ever hardcover it, I want it. Badly.
Rating: 5.0 Stars
Copy: Bought. Yep, I bought it on my own. Just more proof of how great it is.
*Bonus* Here's the book trailer. Can this book do anything wrong? No, probably not.