The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why. When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined--the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king. Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart. The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series. (Summary from GoodReads)
Hey everyone! I've decided to share my review of The Iron King with you all because Kagawa's novella Winter's Passage, which is an Iron Fey novella, will be available on June 1st as a free e-book! I first decided to read this book because I had read lots of great reviews of it. I was certainly expecting a good read, yet it surprised me even still. I didn't realize how awesome it would be or how immersed in the story I would become. I wanted to devour this novel in one sitting, but accursed school (and life) kept me from doing so. At any rate, I loved it.
Essentially, The Iron King is the story of a girl named Meghan whose brother is kidnapped and her journey into the Nevernever, where the fey live, to bring him home. I would include more about the story, but I really don't want to give anything away and I think fans of fairies and fantasy should read it themselves. There's a lot more to this story then a bunch of bloodthirsty fairies. This book has some dystopian undertones (dystopian may not be the perfect word but that's how I'd describe it) which are definitely relevant to today's society, and I think that as readers, it's worth thinking about these messages in the context of our own lives. When these themes first began to emerge, I was blown away by how seamlessly Kagawa tied them into her storyline.
Kagawa is a brilliant storyteller. From early on it was clear that she had put a lot of care and detail in crafting the Nevernever. The story is told through the point of Meghan. Kagawa definitely had her favorite descriptive adjectives, but I never felt that any of the words she used became tired. It became clear that she was trying to depict this world in a very specific light, and I'll be curious to see how Meghan's perspective of the Nevernever evolves as the trilogy continues. I'd also like to add that Kagawa did have some romantic elements in her story, and I thought they were excellently done. The emotions felt realistic and passionate, yet never over the top or eye-rollingly cheesy.
As much as I loved Kagawa's writing, I think the strongest part of this novel is the characterization. By the end of this novel I loved many of the main characters. At several points throughout the novel I found myself honestly wanting to hug one character or throttle another. I also thought Meghan was a great protagonist, and the type of female I'd like to see more in YA. She knew what she wanted and she was determined. While she was naive at times, by the end of the novel she learned to kick butt, but also seemed way more mature. I don't want to write this review without mentioning Ash and Grimalkin. A part of me swooned for Ash, and I found Grimalkin both wise and funny. I can't help but think of him as being similar to the Cheshire Cat in personality.
Overall, this is a fantastic read. Each time I read a chapter and had to set this book aside again, I thirsted for more, immediately thinking of when I could pick this up again. Kagawa's done a fantastic job of setting up for the rest of the series while still crafting a novel which can stand on its own. If you've been intrigued by this book even a little bit, absolutely go for it. I for one will be eagerly and impatiently awaiting The Iron Daughter, this novel's sequel, as I bask in the excellence of this debut.
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.