Friday, June 18, 2010

Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase's life hasn't been normal since her sixth birthday: the day her father vanished without a trace. Not until ten years later does she finally begins to learn the truth about that fateful day. On the eve of her 16th birthday, Meghan awakes to what seems like just another day, but things quickly take a turn for the bizarre when she starts seeing things - like a strange shriveled creature perched atop her computer - even though she's far too young to be going senile. Unfortunately for Megan, that's only the beginning of her problems. When her half brother Ethan claims that "the man in the closet" tried to drag him under the bed, and his stuffed rabbit is passing him secret messages, Meghan writes it off as the fanciful imaginings of a toddler, but when Ethan starts attacking their family, Meghan quickly realizes that something is horribly, horribly wrong. To her surprise, however, it is her prankster best friend Robbie Goodfell who seems to have all the answers - like the fact that Ethan is now a changeling. The terrible and amazing truth is beyond her wildest imaginings, and much more than Meghan's practical mind is willing to accept. It's not until Robbie guides her past the bogeyman in the closet into the wyldwood of the Nevernever and on towards the palace of the summer faery king that Meghan is forced to come to terms with the secret world of myth and magic that lies all around her, hidden from humankind. In her desperate quest to save her kidnapped brother from an unknown enemy, Meghan has no choice but to travel deeper into the wild and dangerous faery world, not yet realizing that the fate of this enchanted land lies in her hands.

In The Iron King, Julie Kagawa spins an enchanting tale full of myth, magic, mystery and adventure. The way Kagawa expands the faery characters from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" into vivid and lifelike personalities is remarkable, especially when it comes to the character of Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck. Puck is one of the most entertaining and endearing characters in the entire novel. While remaining entirely recognizable as the troublesome trickster from "Midsummer," Kagawa makes him seem almost human and entirely lovable. Readers only begin to get a glimpse of the complexities that lie within King Oberon and Queen Titania, however, and their development in future books will hopefully be just as compelling and intriguing as that of Puck. The focus of the story, though, is heroine Meghan Chase - a slightly awkward, down-to-earth, teenage girl. Meghan is a surprisingly relateable heroine, in spite of her more-than-human heritage. Her trials and tribulations at the hands of the "popular crowd," her lively and loyal best friend, her family's ignorance of her existence - all of these will strike a chord with Kagawa's young adult readers. However, Meghan never becomes whiny; she is the kind of heroine who sucks it up and pushes on - an admirable and refreshing trait. As a result, she won't weary older readers, allowing people of all ages to be enchanted by this charming and carefully constructed story of imagination and adventure. However, I hope to see more of Meghan's inner thoughts in future novels - her true nature remains mysterious.

The premise behind Kagawa's Nevernever (the faeryland) is both brilliantly creative and seems to be an insightful portrait of modern disillusionment and the indelible mark technological innovation has left on our planet. This novel is thought-provoking, while never becoming preachy and always keeping the reader engrossed. The Nevernever is home to a host of mystical creatures - both the enchanting and the horrifying, and the novel possesses a delicate and bewitching balance between the haunting darkness that is often associated with the fey, and the atmosphere of a fanciful, coming-of-age adventure. Kagawa seems to draw on a myriad of imaginings - from the "pack rats," adorable gnomes reminiscent of the seven dwarves, to their frightening goblin counterparts, the redcaps, to the character who steals the show and calls to mind the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland: Grimalkin. Grimalkin is Meghan's inscrutable guide, a cat full of sarcasm and dry wit. Kagawa is clearly a cat person, because she personifies the aloof and condescending attitude of a cat perfectly and hilariously. However, what would a faery tale be without the dashing hero? Enter Ash - sworn enemy of Meghan's best friend Puck and prince of the dangerous Unseelie court, the winter faery kingdom which rivals the Seelie court, domain of the summer king, Oberon. Ash is dark and definitely deadly; the first time Meghan sees him, he tries to kill her - but of course, this intrigue only heightens his allure. Kagawa develops their story slowly and tantalizingly, drawing the reader in and keeping them frantically flipping pages anxiously awaiting the romantic gratification. Even Team Puck fans will find themselves holding their breath as Ash and Meghan walk the tightrope between enmity and love, while still crossing their fingers in the hope that Meghan will realize the meaning behind Puck's thinly veiled quips. The Iron King is a truly captivating novel, holding something for everyone within its pages - whether readers are looking for romance, magic, mystery or life-threatening and never-ending adventure. The upcoming August sequel, The Iron Daughter, can't come quickly enough.

Rating:
Premise: 5/5
Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Click here to purchase The Iron King
 





Don't miss the recently released Iron Fey novella, Winter's Passage! Free to download until July 31, 2010.










Come back on Monday to read my interview with The Iron King author Julie Kagawa!





24 comments:

Katie said...

I loved this book! Great review :)

Amelia said...

Hey! You're absolutely right about Meghan - she WAS a great main character and wasn't whiny! Good point. Glad you liked it :D

lisa :) said...

Sounds like another one I'll have to check out! Great review, looking forward to the interview too!

Chas @ LLL in the 808 said...

Excellent review!=)


I really enjoyed Book one and recently read Winter Passage and Loved that one!=)

I am looking forward to more from this author!!

Michelle said...

I skipped this book but managed to get my hands on a galley of The Iron Daughter. It definitely does not disappoint!

Kinsey said...

So excited that this got a good review! I loved the idea, and the cover (so shallow, but I can't help it), so hearing that you enjoyed it is encouraging.

Chas @ LLL in the 808 said...

I agree. Great review!=)

The Iron King is a wonderful read as well as Winter Passage!=)

MarthaE said...

Great, thorough review. I really have to work on expanding my reviews to some more fantasies. Thanks for sharing this.

tsue said...

I appreciate this thorough and detailed review! I know I'd love to read this work.
Thank you for sharing!
tsue1136

Small Review said...

Excellent review! I love your enthusiasm. I was nodding along with everything you said. I'm glad you said what you did about Meghan. I've seen her criticized a bit, but I think she did a great job adjusting to things in this book.

Mary Ellen said...

I just read this book a few weeks ago and fell in love with it. I'm still waiting for the second of the series to come from the library. It seems everyone is reading it! The character Meghan is so realistic! All the characters are really and I couldn't guess ahead about what would happen at all. It's a wonderful book!
methom@earthlink.net

JellyBear7 said...

Awesome review you did here!! I still have to pick up this book at the store and I can't wait to read it after reading this review!

nfmgirl said...

A man in a closet and a stuffed rabbit passing secret messages? Okay. I'm sold. I need this one!

Diana said...

I really love this book. Meghan Chase is one of my favorite book character.Your review was amazing!

Lexie said...

I have read tons of reviews of this book but for some reason I never understood that it is based on Shakespeares's play! (I guess I'm a little slow!) What a great way to bring this story back and make it contemporary! Can't wait to read this one!

Vivien said...

Great review. I love this series.

Moirae(thefates) book reviews said...

This is such an awesome series!!

Lane

CAsanmiguel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CAsanmiguel said...

i've heard so much about this book. awesoome story! :)

camilleanne_angel@yahoo.com.ph

Syki said...

I have read this book and I am definitely TEAM ASH - the icy prince <3

Jadey! said...

I have seen so many reviews of this book, and none so far have commented on the Midsummers Nights Dream theme. Honestly, as a Shakespeare fangirl, I am totally excited to read this one!

Jennifer said...

I am really anxious to read this series. I have read so much about it. Sounds interesting.

I also did not realize it was related to Shakespeare's play! Nice review.

Evie said...

This serie is on my wishlist and I can't wait to know more about this fascinating story.
Thanks for the great review.

Laura Hartness said...

I wanted to read this before, but now your review makes me want to read it more-- good job! I'm going to go enter your blogoversary contest...

Laura Hartness

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