The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Goodreads: The Iron King
Series: The Iron Fey #1
Source: free ebook from Kagawa’s website

Goodreads Summary: 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.

Review:  I have noticed that lately the reviews I am writing approach the book in a chronological order:  I felt this way about the beginning, this way about the middle, and this way about the end.  This is an approach that English professors tend not to like.  In some way, it can over-simplify things.  But I find it a useful approach for some reviews, where I want my readers to understand my progression of emotions towards the book, just in case someone else has the same journey.  A book that seems mediocre in the beginning can become good later on, and it would be a shame for someone who might ultimately enjoy it to DNF it in the opening chapters.  The Iron King is one such book.

There is little I like about the beginning at all.  The writing here is unremarkable and the story bordering on stereotypical.  Meg is an under-appreciated teen with an attitude, whom for some reason I am supposed to adore in spite of (because of?) her grating personality.  However, the fact that her stepfather—and essentially everyone else—literally forgets her existence is too overstated to excite my sympathy.  And I can never side with the “normal” kids who need to throw lame insults at the “popular” ones in order to bolster their own confidence.  Calling a girl “inflate-a-boob Angie” is not witty; it is mean and makes Meg no better than the shallow students she is supposedly setting herself against.

I almost set The Iron King down here because it dawned on me that both the story and the style sounded like something I could find on FictionPress.  It was not particularly good, and I had only believed it was as good as I had because I knew it was a bestseller, that everyone loves it, and that I was supposed to believe it was good.  I had a sudden revelation that, really, it was not.

This opinion lasted about to the time Meg enters Nevernever.

Here, the stereotypes begin to float away.  Kagawa even explains why people always forget Meg in a way that mostly soothed my ruffled feathers.  My only interpretation is that Kagawa writes fantasy better than she writes contemporary fiction.

I still have the problem that I did while reading The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long; I have not read Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and I am unfamiliar with all the folklore this story is based on.  Nonetheless, to my uneducated senses, Kagawa seems to utilize her source material well, creating a fairy world that is equal parts beauty and danger, though the danger in Long’s interpretation seems greater.  Kagawa’s best creation, however, is the iron fey themselves, who come as a fantastic and timely surprise.  She does run the risk of overdoing them, but their invention is spot-on.

Ultimately, however, The Iron King is a romance, a fairly sexy one, in fact.  And, ultimately, it is really cute.  Meg and Ash do not really know each other, and the love triangle that is coming in book two can be smelled a mile away, but these are issues that can be easily resolved before the end of the series.  For now, readers can just have fun watching the tension and attraction.  I have to assume this is the primary draw of the story, since the plot is a fairly generic travelling quest.

I gave The Iron King three stars on Goodreads.  It is solid, romantic, and fun.  It has several elements I thought were fantastic.   After all the hype, however, I found it a bit overrated.  I recommend it for readers looking for a light, fun romance.  Personally, I think I will pursue the rest of the series, but not as a priority.

Published: 2010

5 thoughts on “The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

  1. Brittany says:

    I’m with you on this one for the most part! I’m actually not a big fan of faeries but I thought I’d give it a shot since everyone loved this series. I still came off less than impressed. I actually really liked the world building and Kagawa has a fantastic imagination and creative abilities that I surely could never possess! But even still, I just never quite got into it.
    Great review! I love your honesty and how everything is broken down. It really helps readers pinpoint what they might like or dislike 🙂


    • Briana says:

      I think faeries can be difficult to write (this kind at least) because it seems to be the point that they are not human. They’re supposed to be cold, difficult to understand, unconcerned with humans, etc. And this conflicts badly with the apparent need in YA to make characters “relateable.” So an author can either turn off readers by writing characters they don’t “connect with,” or make the faeries relateable, but not very faerie-like. Kagawa seemed to be struggling with this, at least, and I think I would have liked it if her faeries were less human.

      But thanks! Even though I’m okay with going against the crowd, it still makes me a little nervous to widely proclaim I didn’t like a book everyone else seems to love!


  2. Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews says:

    I read The Immortal Rules and absolutely adored that and it was my first Kagawa book and in actual fact I’d bought this book first. I don’t know how that happened, but I’ve as yet to read this one.

    I don’t really have a problem with faeries, I quite like them if the lore and the fantasy intertwines well and you get a really good story. I’ve heard lots about this book, both good and bad and I’ve heard very similiar perspectives on people looking at the main character Meg who seems rather drab and plain to start with.

    It’s very good to know the story picks up and I will be getting around to read this shortly so it’s nice to know that we have a solid book that I should like.

    Thanks for the lovely review.


      • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews says:

        Definitely do. I really enjoyed the novel. It was a little slow to start, but then it really kicked in and I can’t wait for the sequel!


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