Monday, February 21, 2011

The Iron Queen, by Julie Kagawa (a book review)

Meghan Chase is half human/half summer fairy daughter of King Oberon (any other fans of A Midsummer Night’s Dream out there?).  She has also been infused with Iron glamour.  Yes, iron is still a very bad thing for full-blooded fairies here.  And she’s in love with a dark prince from the winter court, Ash.  The couple is an aberration and a disgrace to both of their families.  Ah, forbidden love (I’m SO there).  Refusing to renounce their relationship, they are disowned and ousted from the land of fairy to live out the rest of their days as outcasts in the mortal world. 
The problem for the land of fairy is the iron fey.  Neither summer nor winter can defeat them because of the poisonous nature of iron.  Help us, Meghan Chase, you’re our only hope (I swear I totally hear Princess Leia’s voice in my head right now).  Offering them pardons to return to the land of fey in exchange for a defeat of the iron forces, Meghan and Ash return as saviors, accompanied by snarky Puck (Robin Goodfellow), the other point in the love triangle (come on, what’s a romance without a triangle?).  Thus the stage is set for The Iron Queen, book three of The Iron Fey series, where Meghan must learn to wield the warring summer and iron glamour inside herself to save all of fairy. 
In the first two books, The Iron King and The Iron Daughter, I affectionately referred to Ms. Kagawa as the “Queen of Hyperbole”.  Lots of crying and screaming and gasping.  In this newest installment, Ms. Kagawa seems to have found her stride, toning down her over-enthusiastic writing style just enough. 
As it is with many YA paranormal romances, “the girl” starts out weak, helpless and clueless, depending solely on “the boy” to keep her safe.  In the good books, the girl develops, strengthens, and matures.  This is one that fits into the latter mold.  Meghan is not content to sit by and let the boys fight all her fights for her. Yay, girl power!  The problem (sorry Julie) I had was in suspending my disbelief, not of the endless array of fantastical characters, but in Meghan herself, who grew entirely too fast in her military prowess.  The boys, centuries old and battle tested, actually look at her and kind of go, “Well, what do we do now?”  Really?  And so, much of the book is Meghan bossing around the boys, turning them into lapdogs.  My grandmother  would have said she got way too big for her britches. 
The bottom line is Ms. Kagawa gives me the two things I want the most:  characters I can’t get enough of and dialogue so true to the characters that I can hear them in my sleep. 
I like that we finally get to see a relationship build here. Ash is no longer bound by the politics of the Winter Court and his super nasty mommy.  Part of me missed the moody, dark prince, but only just a tad.  There were scenes for me to swoon over and cry over.  (Okay, only two tears, but tears nonetheless). 
This is not the last installment.  The Iron Knight shall be next. Gone are the days of a good, old-fashioned trilogy.  Regardless, I am certain I will pre-order the next book, most likely pushing aside my current read when the UPS man knocks on my door.  J
Rating:  4 out of 5 hearts
        --Suzi Ryan

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