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One highly opinionated feminist YA nerd's twisted, snarky and informative journey through the genre's perils, pitfalls and sparkles.

Review - "The Iron Fey Trilogy" by Julie Kagawa.

“The Iron Fey Trilogy”

Author: Julie Kagawa.

Publisher: Harlequin Teen.

Books: The Iron King, The Iron Princess and The Iron Queen.

Synopsis for The Iron King (taken from GoodReads): 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.

Cover impressions: When I was working in Waterstones (I miss that job so much) I noticed an article in the Publishers monthly magazine we were sent about Harlequin moving into the YA market and this was one of the books they were advertising very heavily, along with Rachel K. Vincent’s Soul Screamers series. I’m not really a fairy fan but the Midsummer Night’s Dream comparisons and the fact that I got an e-ARC of the 3rd book in the trilogy (from NetGalley) convinced me to pick the series up.

The series, and the elements within, are sort of a mixed bag. The characters are archetypal of the paranormal genre but there are a few gems within, the set up is very familiar but often executed with flair and creativity, the love story is deathly dull but the world building and mythology is fascinating. There’s a lot to cover and I’m going to do it spoiler free.

Meghan, our heroine, is your pretty standard paranormal YA heroine; she’s an outcast who thinks she’s plain but is actually gorgeous, she’s got family troubles, is supposed to be smart but often makes incredibly stupid decisions and exhibits bravery when necessary. She’s not the worst YA heroine I’ve come across but there was nothing particularly distinguishable about her either. Ash, the main love interest, was also equal levels of dull and the same old dark, mysterious and faintly jerky sexy hero we’ve become oh so accustomed to in the genre. Puck is more promising but the highly predictable love triangle set up does neuter him somewhat. In general, the love element just dragged everything down. I don’t know how much of this has to do with me just being so worn down by love stories in YA, especially three pronged ones, but it felt very samey and poorly developed. As always, things go from cold indifference to light contempt to undying love with no real exchanges beyond the stock formula. Part of its failing lies in the fact that our young lovers are just so damn boring. The real gems are in the supporting characters and the villains, even if the first book’s baddie did have me thinking a lot about Jareth from Labyrinth (which is never a bad thing!)

Kagawa has picked her inspirations from the best selection possible – you’ve got traditional fairy lore, Shakespearean comedy and some modern day stuff like Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, one of my childhood staples. The book really shines with its mythos – the traditional clashing with the modern, knowing full well that they can’t survive together, and the Iron Fey concept is genuinely great stuff. If you’re familiar with other fairy YA – Melissa Marr, Holly Black, etc – it may feel a little too familiar to you but it’s still interesting stuff. While the general set up of the trilogy feels very familiar, Kagawa handles it in an interesting way and keeps the plotting fast and interesting. The vast world is populated with a mish mash of creatures and characters that stop things from getting too dull. It’s a very readable series, even if it never fully steps into greatness.

And that’s how I can sum up this series without spoiling anything. Each book is good and very readable, with some great elements in amongst the overly familiar, and I did enjoy the books despite the view my review may present to you, but the books never ascend to greatness. They’re fun, light reads that won’t take up too much of your time and if you’re a fan of this sort of mythology, it’s definitely worth a read. I’m just finding it difficult to say anything more beyond this. Each book flows well and the series is relatively tightly plotted with some action and violence to keep you going through the plodding, deathly dull romance, and the supporting cast make up for the dishwater-like heroes, but it’s all fluffy, mindless fun.

The Iron King: 3.5/5.

The Iron Daughter: 3/5.

The Iron Queen: 3/5.

Coming next on The Sparkle Project: So... there's a copy of Becca Fitzpatrick's "Crescendo" in my local library... should I?

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MikeMagpuyo said...

Take a risk :) Awesome review.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review! I might read these afterall, if just for the fun factor.

About Crescendo . . . well, I guess it switches around the gender roles a little because Nora stalks Patch this time around?

Anonymous said...

I've actually been debating picking up this series (we have the third one in at work...but not the first two. Go figure), and still wasn't sure from what I sampled on Kindle. I'm still thinking about reading the first one.

(Could I maybe throw a suggestion your way? Lisa Mantchev's Theatre Illuminata books- it's a fascinating world set-up that's inspired by forms of theater, mostly from Shakespeare, but stuff like Cirque du Soleil show up later. I really liked the first two books and I'm looking forward to the last one this summer.)

Ashleigh said...

Then it looks like I won't be reading the Iron Fey series. I already had a vague feeling that
a dull love story would be a big part of the books (I consider it a bad sign if I see teams for the love triangle floating around the Internet) and it just doesn't sound like anything I would enjoy. Bad love stories ruin what could otherwise be good books for me.

Don't do it! Don't torture yourself with Crescendo! I agree with princessstarr--try the Theatre Illuminata books. They were lovely, even though I only had half a clue what was going on in the second book.

Anonymous said...

what is the order of the books coz just seen a book called the winters passage is that the 4th book???

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