The Iron King by Julie Kagawa; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: The Iron King

Author: Julie Kagawa

Published: February, 2010

Number of Pages: 368

Rating: 4/5


“…What do you want, Ash?”

“Your head,” Ash answered softly. “On a pike. But what I want doesn’t matter this time.” He pointed his sword at me. “I’ve come for her.”

I gasped as my heart and stomach began careening around my chest. He’s here for me, to kill me, like he promised at Elysium.

“Over my dead body.” Puck smiled, as if this was a friendly  conversation on the street, but I felt the muscles coiling under his skin.

“That was part of the plan.”…

“Stay back, princess,” Puck warned, pushing me out of the way. He reached into his boot and pulled out a dagger, the curved blade clear as glass. “This might get a little rough.”

“Puck, no.” I clutched at his sleeve. “Don’t fight him. Someone could die.”

“Duels to the death tend to end that way.” Puck grinned…


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. [From Goodreads]


I was on the way up to my family’s land, Pine Hollow (we named it. Yes, we did.) and found myself in a dilemma. I had five or six different books that I could read next, and only one set of eyes. I turned to my Twitter pals and asked them which of the books I should read. The Iron King won out, and I’m so grateful that it did! From the minute we dove into the Faery world, I couldn’t believe my mind. The vivid images in my head, the harsh, fascinating realities of Julie Kagawa’s world… they astounded me.

What an insanely interesting book! I haven’t read many books about faeries, and most of the information I’ve read about them I found in Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (Review), which also has a fantastic faery storyline. The Iron King, however, turns faeries into a main focus. Their mystic and often cruel nature was intriguing. I cannot wait to read the sequel, The Iron Daughter, if only to be back in Nevernever (Aka, Faeryland).

The characters in the novel will grip you and hold you tight, wrenching you apart when they move in opposite directions or toward conflicting goals. Meghan is a character I can easily like and respect, although I thought she could be a little ridiculous at times. At one point, she was upset over something (sorry for the vagueness, but I’m trying to avoid spoilers.) and it struck me as totally silly. So, although she seemed a little ridiculous at times, it didn’t shadow the fact that she’s ultimately a good and cute little person. Which makes me glad.

As most YA books seem to, there was certainly a love triangle in this book. It’s actually in a state of germination, if you ask me. I’m sure the sequel holds a lot more in this area as the relationships develop further. Let me tell you – I have never been this torn (well, except in the case of Clockwork AngelReview). Usually, I know right from the start who I’m rooting for, or who I prefer in general, even if I don’t necessarily need them to end up with the girl (I’ll take him!). Originally, I was wholeheartedly Team Puck. Weird “P” names for the win! His goofiness and lightheartedness are endearing, and the skinny boy with bright-orange hair idea of him that I have in my head is cute. However, as Ash became more of a focal point, I couldn’t escape the feeling that he’s great in his own icy way. Overall, I’m remaining open to options, but I’m going to hold tight to my Team Puck for however long I can.

I think the thing about this book that wowed me the most, that has gripped me so tightly that there is no possible way I could go a month before reading The Iron Daughter, is Nevernever. How enchanting and visually delicious. Julie Kagawa gave me the seeds from which to grow some of the most fascinating places I have ever dreamed of. The moment we entered this fantasy world, I was addicted. The culture, social structure – everything about this world pulls me in. This was perfect because the survival of Nevernever comes into play, and I felt as though everything really was being put on the line. The pixies, the goblins, the weird-river-horse-creatures, the elves – all came together to create a world I wanted to be enveloped in. And the addition of Robin Goodfellow (also known as Puck) didn’t dampen the experience a bit.

The descriptions in the novel were strict and detailed enough to give me a clear idea of what the author’s views were – perfectly concise – but also gave me the freedom to do whatever I fancied. As a reader, I had the ideal amount of creative freedom to add to the world the aspects that made it fantastical and hauntingly beautiful to me.

The Faery realities are horrifying at times and most definitely disturbing. I loved this. It gave the book some awe-inspiring quality. I was fascinated by the magical bonds that promises and swearing trapped a person in and the manipulative tendencies of the faeries. The entire world is a riddle, everything has an underlying meaning that you have to be clever enough to perceive, and it’s inarguably just as easy to misinterpret. Nearly everyone has an ulterior motive. This book will require you to keep your ears perked and your senses sharp.

The plot holds together nicely, and I felt I had just the right amount of time to familiarize with Nevernever before I was flung into more action-packed sequences. However, there was, and I believe still is, enough yet to be discovered to add a hint of confusion and occasionally panic that spices things up a bit. The climax passed in a heartbeat, but that was probably because I was sucking the words in like I do blackberry milkshakes. The hint of apprehension that smacked me in the face (and excitement, did I mention excitement?) at the very closing of this novel had the desired effect – I want more and very, very soon.

The fact I wish you to glean from this review: I now have an unhealthy addiction to Faeryland. I encourage you to jump on this Faery bandwagon with me and become addicts yourselves. You will never hear similar words emitted from my mouth, I promise.

Julie Kagawa, thank you. Do I owe you a life debt or my first born child or something for this book?

2 Commentsto “The Iron King by Julie Kagawa; Review”

  1. This was also on my pile of to-be-reads, but I passed it up for something else! After reading your review, I know what I'll grab next. Thanks!

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