Monday, April 18, 2011

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Published February 1, 2010.

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 herdead than let her touch his icy heart.

When a book lives up to its hype, it really lives up to it. I loved The Iron King. Loved. Maybe it had to do with the Labyrinth undertones. Maybe it had to do with the fantasmagorically developed world Kagawa created or how closely she remained to the Fey myths. Maybe because Meghan was such a realistic character that I believed nearly everything she did. Or maybe it was a combination of all of that.

Seriously, one of the best Fey books I've read. It sticks nearly meticulously to the lore. It doesn't try to sweeten the Fey pot. Faeries are bastards and they stay bastards. Insert that into a plot that rightly has a character with The Chosen One syndrome but Kagawa plays it off so well that I just don't care. I feel for Meghan when she's humiliated, run down, exhausted, frustrated. When her heart beat faster, so did mine. When she thought she was going to lose someone, so did I. I felt so tied to her that she could have been an extension of myself. Plus I loved her reactions to things. None of this 'okay, I accept it all' attitude. She has some seriously WTFery going on and she sticks to it.

The only issue I had with this book, and why it won't be getting the top rating, is the blooming relationship between Meghan and Ash. Sorry. No dice. I don't care how hot a guy is. If he fully intends on killing me and/or handing me over to his crazy bitch mother, I'm not letting him in. I had a hard time getting past that. No matter how sweet he was to her, how soft his lips were, he still wanted to make a hat rack out of her. And she got googly. Pass.

I'm so much more rooting for her and Duckie Puck/Robbie. He's a much more solid character and I was sad to see him leave the plot. They just fit better together, there's a better relationship between the two, and a more believable one at that. Plus he wears his intentions on his sleeve, just like Ash. Except unlike Ash, he doesn't want to slaughter Meghan. Personally I find that a bonus.

The Labyrinth undertones? Oh absolutely. Jareth was just dance, magic, dancing in my head through some of those parts. Every time Meghan pleaded with a creature that she had to find her brother, Sarah was right there. Grimalkin? A more valiant Hoggle. The ogre in the club? Ludo. The baby brother? Toby. It was all there. There were sly little insinuations. Nothing drastic or even all that noticeable unless you were a Labyrinth nut like me. But I saw them. Oh I saw them.

Plus a hint of Neverending Story. The Nevernever being destroyed by mankind's lack of imagination and fantastical dreams? Hello? The Nothing (mankind's fizzling dreams of fantasy) eating Fantasia? Anyone?

Totally not saying it's a rip. Just that the hints are there. I see them. Not sure if they're intentional or not but when certain elements were revealed in the story, those were the places my mind went first. Definitely not a bad thing.

So if you're looking for a book with heavy Fey influence (and some 80s movie hints) that sticks close to the lore, tells a kick-ass story and will suck you right the hell into the Nevernever (and possibly have you checking your closets), The Iron King is it. Read it. You won't regret it.

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