Author: Julie Kagawa
Title: The Iron Daughter
Series: Iron Fey
Publisher: Harlequin Teen (2010)
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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.
Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.
The Iron King set astoundingly high standards with me, so much so that I'm considering the series for my day job. It was almost impossible to keep up with what I expected from this series. And yet, bar a couple of scenes, the Iron Daughter has managed to perform up to par.
The style offers a seamless continuity with the previous book. It is true that the first chapter, where the author offers us a recap of what happened in volume one, seemed jarring at points – the summary was supposed to be part of Meghan's thoughts, and thus part of the present, and it did not quite crystallize. But that is the only complain I have, and as you can see, it does not go very far in the way of complaining.
The plot started more heavily focused on impossible romance this time around, but it quickly merged with a purpose: as we had to save Meghan's kid brother in book one, this time around we follow our heroes as they fight to reestablish balance and to avert a fatal war between Summer and Winter. The pace picks up relatively soon and does an admirable job of keeping the tension, even when the romance and the secondary plot threads might threaten to slow it down.
One of those secondary threads I just mentioned is integral to the plot, while at the same time it sets up the scene for book three. It's... a very interesting twist, and one I look forward to read more about. The other, I'll freely admit it, left me quite baffled. It had already been foreshadowed in book one, but I can't grasp the importance this side quest into Meghan's past might have for her faery future. This does not mean I'm put off by the possibility: on the contrary, I am eager to see how Ms. Kagawa weaves this one together with the rest in order to make it one solid thing.
That is perhaps one of the greatest things about these books: they are solid. About as solid as a castle. They have been so carefully crafted that the smallest details are in place for a reason, and that is a show of good narrative. It keeps the reader immersed and hooked.
As far as characters are concerned, we will be seeing a steady evolution on Meghan's part, and we will get to know Puck, Grim the cat, and an old friend I won't name so as not to spoil the surprise much better than in book one. They are all consistent and become more and more rounded with each passing adventure – great job there on the author's part.
Ash is perhaps the one who has less depth, even in this book, even though he's a main character, and yet it is excusable: it goes with his dark, mysterious persona. I hope the author will eventually give us more on him, because she has the talent and he has the potential, but even if she doesn't, he's better than most YA love interests in the market.
So, to conclude, I can say that I have enjoyed this book almost as much as the first. It kept me interested, invested, and always willing to read one more page before turning in for the night. I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA fantasy and would like to see a dark, nearly-adult take on faery tales.