The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

There were three reasons I read this book as the ‘fairytale’ part of my Once Upon A Time Reading Challenge.
1) The cover is stunning. STUNNING. It’s like a YA Philippa Gregory, but embossed. And I am a massive massive sucker for anything embossed, as Poverty Aid knows to my cost.
2) It got a 4.04 in goodreads. That’s amazing. King of the Genre, Twilight, only got 3.65.
3) I’ve read five murder mysteries and over 1000 pages of A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy gore fest in the last two weeks and fancied something a little more corpse-light.
This is the first in a series of so far four books, set in the land of the Nevernever, an amalgamations of every single fairytale and myth you’ve ever heard of, with a hefty dose of anti-materialism thrown in.
Meghan Chase is a old white trash school girl growing up on her stepfather’s pig farm in rural Louisiana. She lives in second hand clothes, is bullied constantly at school and neglected at home and treasures her only friend Robbie and her hard-won iPod. Her father disappeared without a trace when she was six, but she has a weird memory of him walking into a pond in her local park.
On the day of the sixteenth birthday, her young brother Ethan (points for cute) is exchanged for a changeling faery child, and it is revealed that (gasp) her best friend Robbie Goodfell is actually Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck.
Together, Puck and Meghan journey into the feary world, where you’re either the prey or the hunter, and have various adventures before the big reveal that Meghan is the half daughter of Oberon, King of the Summer Court and has magical faery powers.
Meghan travels throughout the different worlds looking for her brother, before discovering he is being held by the Iron King, Machina, who rules over a new part of the Nevernever, the Iron Fey, a scrap-heap waste land created from the technology and progress of humans. Fearies are mortally allergic to iron, and if the Iron Fey continues to expand, the world will end. Together with a mischievous cat Grimalkin, Meghan follows various trods, vanquishing enemies and escaping endless certain deaths, to a final confrontation with the Iron King.
Now, in all honestly, parts of this book are utterly ridiculous. There are purple passages scattered liberally throughout, especially concerning The Love Interest, gorgeous ice-man Prince Ash, the son of Oberon’s enemy Queen Mab, and the events of the book also happen rather quickly-we’re no sooner introduced to one baffling concept than it is hastily discarded in favour of another equally baffling. The plot leaps about giving us no real time to emotionally connect to any of the characters; there is one really obvious bit where a Grandmother Willow stand in sacrifices her life so that Meghan can fight the bag guys, and this could have been a really solemn and poignant moment if we’d met said Grandmother William earlier than three paragraphs ago. There is also a bit that slightly excuses date rape that almost had me writing a whole different blog post; when some faeries attempt to pick a confused and disorientated Meghan up in a city park posing as handsome college boys, Prince Ash leaps in with a ‘this one is not to be touched’-aka ‘I own this person, go find some other young girl to rape’. Nice.
Meghan herself is all over the place as a character, but I did like her, and I do want to read the rest in the series. Except for a few occasions of Bad Language this book is for the Y end of the YA spectrum-it’s witty and the dialogue is spot on, but there’s no real umph and Chronicles of Ancient Darkness is about a billion times better.
My favourite part of reading this book was goodreadsing it afterwards. Highlights of the amazing and often lengthy reviews of this series were the one that complained that Puck is becoming a ‘stock character’ (bless), though my utter favourite was the Marxist reading of The Iron Fey.
Whatever, it was a fun read, I’m going to read the rest of them, and if you’ve got a tween who’s read all the Eoin Colfer’s and doesn’t mind the F-Bomb then I’d give these a go.

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