Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. I thought my time with teh fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices for those I loved, was behind me. But a storm was approaching, one that would test those choices like never before. And this time, there would be no turning back.

Coming February 1st, 2011!

If I'd known, I might've done things differently. But beyond that moment of regret, I felt calm, certain, filled with a resolve that pushed back all fear or doubt. I was ready there was no other way. -Meghan

Upon getting the ARC for Iron Queen from Netgalley, I took the plunge, stopped reading everything else, and solely focused myself on Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey Series. One week later all I have to say is...what a ride! I always found myself staring at the Iron King novel whenever I visited my local bookstore but never actually going through with the purchase. Now, I don't understand how I never picked up this gem, except for maybe I wouldn't have been able to wait for the next one, so it was better that I postponed reading them until I had all the three books in my hands or Kindle ;) . So, onto the review!

Well after having read the first two books, I honestly thought the series couldn't get any better, but Julie Kagawa has a knack for proving the reader wrong with every turn of the page. The book got better and better until it coudn't take anymore and even then, it was still great. As others have pointed out, this book, more than the other two before it, was epic! It had everything that makes up a good Y.A. book: romance, action, paranormal, strong characters, etc, but it strayed away from crossing the much too familiar grounds of the typical storylines we've been experiencing in most contemporary teen novels.

Meghan Chase thought everything would settle down after she and her Ice Prince, Ash, were exiled from the Faery World, but then what fun would that be. No sooner does she arrives at her parent's home than she is attacked by a group of Iron Fey. From there the novel quickly picks up. Following the storyline from the previous book (The Iron Daughter), there is now a new, false, Iron King who's not only out to defeat the Oldbloods (meaning the Summer and Winter Kingdom) but kill Meghan as well so can access her iron glamour.

The thing that most attracted me from this novel was Meghan's transformation. It's not to say she was a weak main character in the previous books, on the contrary, she was always a rather strong lead but I felt she grew the most here. As I've said before in a previous review, Meghan was the right cross between level-headed strong female lead and a typical teenager with insecurities and fears, but I felt those insecurites were holding her back. Unlike the first book, where Meghan had to save her little brother, Ethan, from the Iron King, here the stakes were higher. Everything Meghan knew or held dear was faced with the possibility of extinction and when duty called, Meghan answered gracefully. Throught the novel, with all the problems she faced, whether it was in her relationship with Ash and Puck, the situation with her father, or the problem at hand with the false Iron King; Meghan Chase held her head high and wasn't afraid to talk back to people (wicked queens included) or do things her way. Besides, it was nice seeing her kick some faery butt, instead of cowering in a corner.

On the romance front, I was glad at how the author handled the Puck-Meghan-Ash situation. For one thing, I'm not a fan of love triangles, and I was glad that Kagawa didn't seem to be much of a fan either. She didn't complicate things and there was a clear distinction of where Meghan's affections laid (Hint: It wasn't Puck!). Which then leads me to Ash. Ash, lovely, lovely Ash, trust me, if you weren't in love with him yet, you're about to fall head over heels. In this book, he is much less guarded and not only do we get to experience more of Ash's personality, but I loved seeing how open he was with his feelings towards Meghan. If you're not convinced, here's a little taste:

"I won't lose another." His forehead bumbed soflty against mine, his brilliant silver gaze searing into me. "I plan to keep you, from everyone, for as long as I'm alive. That includes Puck, the false king and anyone else who would take you away." On corner of his mouth quirked, as I struggled to catch my breath under his powerful scrutiny. "I guess I should've warned you that I have a slight possessive streak."

Not only was Ash great but so were all the other recurring and new characters. It was good to see Puck and Grimalkin back and even a little funny to see them agreeing on so many things. The war element was also a nice touch and Meghan's second foray into the Iron Realm was very a different experience than that of the first novel. I was also glad to see Kagawa continue her world-building even amidst all the events that were going on. Whether it was the Summer or Winter Kingdoms, the Iron Realm or Leanansidhe inbetween, Kagawa made it all come together into a wild, chilling reality where loyalty and favors could only get you so far. Be warned, Kagawa's faeries aren't the loving, good-giving creatures Disney likes to portray but rather blood hungry creatures who are as calculating as they are charming.

Be prepared to bawl, get frustrated, scream, have your heart stop more than a couple of times, fall in love and be swept of your feet, kick some butt and utimately feel relieved/conflicted/speechless when it's all over.

Consensus: If faeries pike your interest but you're unsure what to read, Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series is just the thing for you. Her fey are charming, calculating and blood-thirsty but that only adds to their allure as characters. In The Iron Queen, not only will you enjoy the utterly great plot but you'll laugh with Puck, swoon with Ash and whoop for joy evertime Meghan confronts the fey.



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