Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Blurb taken from Julie Kagawa’s official site:


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.

Megan Chase is an outsider and with the exception of her best friend Puck, her next door neighbour, she is ignored by her school peers and disinterested parents who tend to overlook her. So it’s no surprise she yearns for something more, and soon finds herself wishing for change, but that might not a be a good thing. She soon finds out — to her consternation — that a hidden world of the mysterious fae reveals itself to her, and soon her baby brother gets kidnapped and she finds herself, along with Puck, who she finds out is a fae himself on a quest to save her brother. Along the way, Megan finds out that she is a the daughter of a fae King, encounters strange and terrifying creatures, as well as dodging the clutches of a dark fae prince whom she finds herself dangerously attracted to.

When I initially started The Iron King, I thought that this would be another Twilightesqe YA book which would have a heroine who is an outcast with inattentive parents and would be swept off her feet by a mysterious, but morally ambigious new guy. But within the first few chapters, I couldn’t be more wrong from my original impressions, and The Iron King soon turned out to be an engrossing, exciting and bloody good read.

Although The Iron King took elements that was reminiscent from the movie Labrynth, and books such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Alice in Wonderland, it gave those aspects a unique twist which made it fresh to the reader. I adored that we actually got to see the fae lands called the Summer lands and the Iron King’s kingdom. It made me realised I missed this approach to a lot of YA books recently which is set around High school/modern setting. In the The Iron King, the fantasy aspects really came alive with imagination and inventiveness, and I think compared to other YA books, this is missing or isn’t focussed as much. I especially love the descriptions of the The Iron King’s kingdom which had factors from steam-punk and was a great twist on the fae mythology.

The love interest in the book is also well developed. There is Puck the joker, who is witty but underneath is very hurt with a serious edge. But I think a highlight for me was Megan’s relationships with Ash and Puck – although it does appear there is a love triangle of sorts developing amongst them. Which for Puck, there is hints that his feelings for Megan might be unrequited, and in many ways adds to his resentment to Ash due to a painful past between them. And for Ash – who I have to say is deliciously sexy – and Megan who are supposed to be enemies, contributes to the romantic tension in their relationship. I have read previous books, particularly in the YA genre, which had the ‘I am here to kill you, but suddenly loves you’ heroes which shows no development and its jarring to the reader as well as unrealistic. But although it is not a unique premise or situation, Julie Kagawa really conveys emotional intensity in the story – especially between the three characters, and I think the growing romance between Ash and Megan is one I look forward to seeing developing in the next book.

The humour especially added to the tone of the plot and really made creatures come alive like the boogie fae monster that lived in the wardrobe and the creepy changeling that took the place of Megan’s abducted brother. But I think one of the real stars of the book was Grimalkin, the antisocial/hero cat, who becomes one of Megan’s companions in her quest to find her brother. His witty and catlike attitude was a delight to read, and his sarcastic demeanour made him mysterious because it kept me wondering what was his main motive and objective was to Megan and the others.

The depiction of the fae is one of the best examples I’ve read in the genre because it is mainly set in Nevernever (fae lands), although it was partly set in a real life/modern setting. When the book focussed in the fae lands, I think it brought the story alive, since it was full of imagination and contributed to the tone and also the pace which was nonstop. It was almost breathless in tone and feel. The Iron King is a truly delightful book that I really enjoyed. I think it also reminded me that with recent YA books the sense of adventure is missing especially when the focus is usually on angsty doomed lovers. Although The Iron King had that element, it also had imagination, wit and well drawn out characters. And it really felt like it was elements of a casserole dish of tropes, but came out something warm, spicey and fullfilling. I am eagerly awaiting the second book of the trilogy, The Iron Daughter, to see where Megan and the gang end up.

I give The Iron King 4 out of 5

5 thoughts on “Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa”

  1. Oh I definitely recommend it!!! It was one of the best YA debuts I have read and it had that old school adventure feel to it 😀

  2. i really like the books Ash is so sexy and i wish to read the next ones their awesome im on the second book and i reallly like how amazing how Ash is and how megan is so stubbern

  3. it is an amazing series and it is hard to put down i am on the iron knight and the iron queen is going to make you cry at the end.

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