Title: The Iron Queen
Series: Iron Fey
Publisher: Harlequin Teen (2011)
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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My name is Meghan Chase.
I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.
This time, there will be no turning back. (GoodRead's Blurb)
Julie Kagawa has given us yet further proof of her skills with The Iron Queen. I must say it again: the Iron Fey series is probably the best YA I’ve read, and the wrapping up to Meghan’s adventures serves to cement my feelings.
As of the ending of The Iron Daughter, it was easy to foresee what would be the main focus of this title – and yet, I was surprised at every turn of the way. I’d not have predicted how we reached the finish line, in fact. But the twist made sense, was in line with everything else Ms. Kagawa has told us and so I believe that the ending was perhaps the most powerful one yet.
This book also has a clear purpose to move our characters forward, and while there were some points I saw coming – I won’t spoil them for you –, the action and character development kept me glued to the pages. There are two epic battle scenes, and while the first one might be a bit rushed (and sound a bell or two to Lord of the Rings followers), the second one, closing off the volume, was astounding. Ms. Kagawa did manage to make the intense fear of death and war peer out of her pages, and I had my heart firmly lodged in my throat even though I was sure the “good guys” would win.
While I’ve enjoyed the plot immensely and it was solid as a rock for the most part, I ran into two instances where I was forced to think, “Uh? Where did that come from?”. It may have been that I was so absorbed in characters, or action, that I did not see the first part of the idea and was shocked when the author dropped the second foot, though. Actually, I’d be grateful if you could correct me and let me know when Meghan’s seal is broken and how the dragons join the war...
Those shocks were minimal anyway and did not detract to the story, but there is one plot thread I still can’t make head or tails of. It’s Paul, Meghan’s mortal father. I find it difficult to adjust to the fact that his relevance in all the previous books, the effort Meghan puts into rescuing him even though she does not remember him at first, everything... leads up to a conversation about music. Yes, it was important, but I feel like there should be more to him, though I fail to see what.
In any case, searching for her mortal father is probably the only absurd thing Meghan does: she is, as in the previous books, driven to her goals and fiercely loyal. True, she has put some distance with her family, aware that her proximity is more dangerous to them than whatever help she may offer, but the zeal to protect that which she holds dear is still moving her forwards and turning her into a strong heroine.
She is not perfect, though, and that is perhaps one of the most compelling things about her: she is scared, she gets pissed at people, she makes mistakes. And we have Puck and Ash to show us the consequences to those mistakes.
Puck was perhaps my favourite character in the first half of the book. Meghan led him on in Iron Daughter, and Iron Queen will give us a jealous guy that I had been longing to see: Puck is no longer the lovely best friend, but an old, powerful fey. One who feels what he should feel at any given point, and behaves accordingly.
Towards the second part, though, when the action picks up and our heroes really need to get moving, he goes back to his joking, easy-going personality. I’d have been disappointed with any other author, but Julie Kagawa gives him a reason to accept that he’s lost – an oath, the most important thing for fey.
And it works.
Then, there’s Ash. His character was probably the one who grew the most in Iron Queen. For him, too, there was a turning point – the oath. Before, we get to know what lies beneath the Ice Prince mask. Afterwards, the author show us a brittle winter fey, with insecurities and fears and the courage he needs to overcome them. I think Ms. Kagawa worked wonders with Ash this time, and I’m looking forward to his very own book, the Iron Knight, coming out this summer.
I also hope to see more of the secondary cast. Grimalkin is nothing short of wonderful, and we get to know new characters who where mentioned in earlier books – like Glitch, Machina’s first lieutenant, or Razor, a prime example of how small things can be important.
Yes, I have just mentioned two Iron fey. Because Iron Queen show us what was already hinted at: not all Iron Fey are evil. Not all of them are the enemy. Not even Machina... I have to point out, I loved the development Kagawa did with him, even if it was just his... memory?
Not only Machina: the reader will also get some insight into Mab’s character that I personally loved. The Winter Queen did not get much screen time, but... I think it was important to show us what she did.
Actually, now that we’ve seen Mab, I feel Oberon needs more depth and that Titania disappears completely in the comparison. Perhaps we will see more about them in the last book of Iron Fey... We can only hope.
Because, while the ending of The Iron Queen will offer some bittersweet closure to the reader, I’m sure anyone who has enjoyed the series will want to read the next instalment.
I know that I wish there were further titles to look forward to.