All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

The Iron King – Julie Kagawa

on November 25, 2010

I didn’t study A Midsummer Night’s Dream in high school. Unfortunately, my school (and the statewide curriculum) was extremely set upon studying Shakespearean tragedies rather than his comedies, which seem infinitely more fun. After 2x of studying MacBeth and 1 each of Hamlet and Othello I had just about had enough and when I picked year 12 Advanced English, we at least got to do Twelfth Night even if that was balanced out by the headwreck that is Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the other text. So when I picked up The Iron King on a whim, seeing it sitting on my library shelf, I went in not really knowing much about faerie-types. And if the MC hadn’t made the connection to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I wouldn’t have myself. That’s kind of bad, isn’t it?

Anyway. Meaghan Chase is just about to turn 16. Living out in the sticks with a technology-shunning stepfather, her mother and her younger half-brother Ethan, there’s not much in her life to write home about. She’s ignored or ridiculed at school and even her own family seems to forget she’s even there half the time, except for Ethan, who is scared of the man in his closet and thinks his stuffed rabbit can talk to him. Her only friend is Robbie, her next door neighbour (he lives 2 miles away) who looks out for her and plays practical jokes. Her father disappeared when she was very young and Meaghan gets the feeling that no one really has any time for her. Boy is that about to change.

After a couple of strange experiences, Meaghan comes home and finds her mother unconscious on the floor, 4yo Ethan standing over her. When Ethan isn’t acting his usual self, Robbie shows up and explains that he isn’t – he’s a changling. Someone has kidnapped the real Ethan. He then explains to Meaghan that he isn’t quite human either – and neither is she. Robbie is aka Robin Goodfellow (or Puck) and Meaghan is the daughter of Oberon, King of the Faeries. If Meaghan wants to get her brother back then they have to go to Neverneverland. Luckily though, Robbie/Puck happens to know the way! As they disappear through Ethan’s closet into Neverneverland, Meaghan is thrown into a potentially deadly war brewing between the summer and winter faeries and is frightened to learn that she’s a pawn that several powerful creatures want to exploit. All she wants to do is rescue her brother and return to her world, but it’s not going to be that easy.

I was surprised even though I’ve read some good reviews of this novel. What I think was the novel’s biggest strength was the descriptive writing. Everything just sprang to life from the page to a vision in my mind and I could see everything so clearly, especially the scenes that take place among the snow and ice. It was extremely warm here when I was reading this  novel but I still felt as though I could be trudging through a forest of ice. The lands and creatures came to life, especially the ‘pack rats’ and I think they might be my favourites.

I found Meaghan a likable protagonist – the idea of a teen struggling to fit in and be noticed by her crush, and even in this case, her family, is nothing very new, it’s been done countless times. But I found Meaghan an enjoyable narrator and her loyalty and devotion to her younger brother was very nice. There was nothing she wasn’t willing to risk to get him back, and she never gave up, even when it all seemed hopeless. She didn’t just take to her new heritage right away either, she struggled to deal with the idea that her father was not the man she had always thought he was, and that her real father was a faerie king. She wasn’t interested in anything that this could bring her and all she cared about was getting away from Oberon’s court and continuing her search for Ethan. She also doesn’t adapt easily to this new, more violent world. She continually brokers peace deals and even when she understands that killing a particular character is the only way out, she can’t help her reaction of sadness and revulsion. I found that an incredibly realistic response – even though she is half faerie and beginning to slowly come to terms with it, she retains her humanity and doesn’t just leap in and start slaying things left and right.

The secondary characters were an eclectic mix. I didn’t overly care for Robbie/Puck – found him a little too in-your-face larrikin for my tastes and the constant ‘princess’ endearment grated on my nerves. But I did appreciate his very understated devotion to Meaghan, which she doesn’t see at all, and I liked that the love triangle was extremely subtle – so subtle that Meaghan probably isn’t even aware that there is one. I did however, very much like Ash – the third participant in the triangle. I found the winter Prince to be the most interesting character of all – I can’t help it. I suppose I’m a sucker for the icy-male-with-a-tortured-past character. I think I’d read the future books for him alone, even if I didn’t like Meaghan herself. And the sidekick haughty cat, Grimalkin, who accompanies them on their journey to rescue Ethan, although he’s nothing new either, he’s still amusing and just enough. Any more and he could easily turn into something you could hate but Kagawa stops just before this line and keeps him fun and entertaining.

The pacing was spot on and although the tone was a bit…young…at times it was still a really enjoyable and addictive read. I already have the 2nd book requested from my local library which I will hopefully be able to pick up tonight. I can’t wait to get to it – The Iron King ended a bit abruptly and I can’t wait to find out what happens to Meaghan next.


Book #95 of my 100 Book Challenge

2 responses to “The Iron King – Julie Kagawa

  1. […] Surprising (in a good way) Book of 2010: Forget You, by Jennifer Echols, The Iron King, by Julie […]

  2. Marce says:

    I love the cover of these books but they are not my cup of tea. Using your review as part of a scavenger hunt 🙂

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