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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2011
I liked it, I didn't like it, I liked it I didn't like it IlikeditIdidn'tlikeit...
I'm torn.
On the one hand, The Iron King can be a really fun read, and I think a lot of people are going to fall in love with it because it's going to give them what they wanted going in: a little faery lore, a little magic, a little otherworldliness and a little lovelust. If you can just read it on that level, it's not bad, a bit of fun fluff.

But at the same time, there are some real drawbacks for me. So here's what I'm going to do: the following is a bulleted list of my pros and cons in the book, and you can decide for yourself whether it's a good or bad review. As I said, I can't decide how much I like this one.


Kagawa is pretty successful visually. There was enough description to help me see the Nevernever, but it was never really overkill.
I really liked the idea of the iron fey. I don't want to give away too much, but it makes sense, it makes faeries current, and it adds another layer of BigBad to the already scary and dangerous fey world.
I think Kagawa gave herself room to grow in the series, and even though there are things you can see coming a mile away, she was able to wrap this book up fairly nicely while planting a hook for the next. I have friends who hate a hook, so let me be clear that it is not a cliffhanger type of hook; if you want to stop after The Iron King, you can and I don't think you'll feel like you didn't get a complete story, but if you want to continue on, there is something there to pull you back in.
The Pack Rats. I thoroughly enjoyed the Pack Rats, and elements like this made me see this as a potential movie, because I think they'd be pretty neat and visual.

The beginning was very slow for me, and thoroughly predictable (truthfully, predictability is a problem throughout, though at some point, I guess I just accepted it). The writing and plot seemed a little write-by-numbers, and other works (Shakespeare, Alice in Wonderland, The Labyrinth, Peter Pan, Spiderman, etc) were alluded to or mirrored throughout, and it left me with an impression of unoriginality for a good portion of the book.
I felt Kagawa was rash with the love aspect; in the beginning Ash is aloof and, as we learn, wounded and closed off, and had there been a slow build up over the entire 3-book series, beginning with a grudging trust and some crushing, then some lovelust, I would have bought it more, but as is, it felt again like write-by-numbers: "I need a love interest, so this is going to happen, then she'll do this and he'll say that, and presto, aren't they just devoted?" It didn't work. Also, there's a whole lot of Puck v. Ash love triangle going around the blogosphere, and I just don't get it. I feel it's hinted at but not developed or even necessary in the book, and it's become so gimmicky anyway...
Weird continuity errors. This got on my nerves a bit. It was just stupid things, like Ash saying Meghan's name, then a couple of pages of stuff happening, and then Ash saying her name again and Meghan getting all fluttery that it's the first time Ash has ever called her Meghan -- when it's not. The first time was about five minutes ago, when he said "Meghan, blahblahblah"... Or, when Meghan is leaning propped against Ash's chest, so there's no way she can see his eyes, and he's telling his sob story (which someone noticed was like a scene from The King's General) and Meghan narrates "Ash fell silent, his eyes dark and haunted." Except you can't see them, so you don't know that. Grr.
Oy, with the deals already! Anyone who is familar with faery lore at all, or has read any fey book knows no saying "thank you" and NO making deals. Even if Meghan was lacking in faery lore before entering the Nevernever, she is told not to say thanks or make deals, and still, it's like practically every single badguy faery she meets, she walks up and plays Lets Make a Deal. She's smart about it once, but the rest of the time, she basically offers herself up on a platter. She'll be thinking, "I hope they don't want my firstborn child," or something along those lines, but she'll say "I'll do anything." What? Think, Meghan. Stop getting yourself into situations where you become the dumb damsel in distress and just THINK.
And speaking of the damsel thing, we're told that Meghan has loads and loads of untapped power, which I am always leery of (but more on that in a minute), but she gets herself into these situations and then stands there waiting to be saved. If you're so powerful, or will be so powerful, show some damn spunk.
[A sidenote on all-powerful protagonists: Just don't. If you're writing a book, just don't. Have the gumption to have an MC who isn't some deep font of powerpowerpower. It's too tempting a crutch to write your characters into an impossible situation and then have them finally "discover" the confidence and ability they've been shying away from using, and BAM, sticky situation solved. Just don't. Think how much more interesting it is, how much more tension there is, and edge-of-your-seatness, when the MC has some ability, some brains, and some pluck, and have to really work to get themselves through. It is so much more rootforable, so much more believable, and so much more relatable. I know it makes your job as a writer a little harder if you can't go all Deus Ex... but really, just don't.]

So. That's the list. As I said, if you can go into it willing to set some things aside and just enjoy it, it flows well and is a nice bit of funfluff. But I'm still torn, and am hoping for growth in book 2, which I have a review copy of, so that the Pro list will begin to outweigh the Con. But I guess only time will tell.
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48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 16, 2010
William Shakespeare's faeries from A Midsummer's Night Dream have been popular characters for YA fiction of late. Following Lesley Livingston's Wondrous Strange and Darklight, The Iron King marks the third book to borrow Puck, Summer King Oberon and Queen Titiana and Winter Queen Mab. Both series also imagine a daughter for King Oberon who discovers her faery heritage and is drawn from the human world into the world of the fey. But that is where the similarities end. The Iron King is a much darker tale.

On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Meghan Chase is confronted with a scene straight out of Pet Cemetery when she and her mother are attacked by her four year old brother. Her best friend Robbie (aka the famous Puck) saves her and reveals that her brother has been switched with a faery changeling and the only way to get him back is to find the kidnapper in the Nevernever (aka faeryland).

The world of the faery is as terrifying as it is beautiful. In her quest, Meghan is nearly eaten several times, ripped apart by trolls, drowned by nixies, impaled by a prince, raped by a herd of satyrs, and boiled by Goblins. And that's not even half of it. There is nothing sweet and gentle about the fey in this book.

There are a number of amusing characters who aid/impede Meghan along the way, most notably the cait sith Grimilkin (who is straight out of Alice in Wonderland), and the inevitable love interest Ash, youngest son of the Winter Queen and sworn enemy of Puck. The animosity between Puck and Ash along with each one's motivation for helping Meghan was a constant thread of entertainment.

Meghan does a fairly good job of acclimating to the revelations Puck presents her with. She struggles initially with the idea that faeries are real, but she doesn't blindly cling to her former reality either. She adapts and learns, and rarely makes the same mistake twice. Nor does she allow herself to become distracted from saving her brother. I did find some of her dialogue to be somewhat juvenile and her interest in Ash seemed to have little motivation beyond how 'inhumanly beautiful' he was.

I think what I enjoyed the most about The Iron King was the twist on the traditional fey mythology involving iron. I don't want to give anything away so I won't elaborate, but be ready to start counting down the months until August when The Iron Daughter is released as there is a bit of a cliffhanger ending. In the meantime I have a sudden nostalgic desire to watch Labyrinth.

Sexual Content: Kissing
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2011
I honestly do not understand how this book has such a high rating. It was so difficult to get through. I love fantasy and I adore Shakespeare and the book was recommended by a friend. Yet the writing was sloppy and clumsy, the characters were annoying and lacked motive and realism (I don't mean realism in the sense that they were mythological, that was fine with me... it was that they didn't respond to situations with normal emotions and reactions. they were very much like caricatures) and the plot was very slow moving and predictable. I also wanted to wring the neck of the annoying twit who was narrating/plaguing us with her uninteresting thoughts. not a great read, I would not recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 28, 2012
See more of my reviews sooner on The YA Kitten!

Stories of the fey are typically not my cup of tea, but the Iron Fey series has so much praise going for it from my friends that I've always considered the series. Kagawa's vampire novel The Immortal Rules was good enough to make me consider it further, and I've finally taken the leap. Really, being the odd one out all the time like this is getting irritating. I fail to see what has so many of my friends enchanted.

The Iron King left me unimpressed overall, but Kagawa's worldbuilding deserves some applause. If there is any one element in the novel that is outstanding, it's this. Her idea of how the iron fey came to be is actually quite ingenious and she makes the well-used details of the fey's Summer/Seelie and Winter/Unseelie Courts feel somewhat fresh. More than a few times, I was reminded of the movie Labyrinth, which is pretty much something everyone who has seen the movie can say about this book.

Still, it draws too much on Labyrinth at times and I stop enjoying the similarities. Subtle parallels are okay, such as those to Sailor Moon in Cinder by Marissa Meyer, but The Iron King went above and beyond in that respect. The overindulgence in cliches and lack of depth made it harder and harder to enjoy the novel. Our brooding hero Ash the insta-love he and Meghan have, the stereotypes of the human high school students,... Cliches should be played with, not played straight.

From the time Meghan called a cheerleader ""inflate-a-boob" Angie", I disliked her. I forgave some of her dumb actions in the novel because she had no idea what they fey were like and was slowly learning, but some things are simply unforgivable. Like being told not to run because the enemy will see her and then running to a police officer as if he could help her with fey-possesseed humans. That's just--- There are no words. The with the satyrs trying to rape Meghan and Ash saving her from them bothered me far worse than that. THIS IS NOT A WAY TO DEVELOP A ROMANCE. IT NEEDS TO DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH.

So they spend the entire novel traveling to get to the Iron Kingdom and rescue Ethan, and once they get there and meet Machina, the Iron King, it's all over just like that. So much anticipation for a few pages of a speech (one so creepy that I made a GIF-worthy horrorface) and then that's it. What I'd heard about Machina played on one of my tropey weakness of the villain wanting the heroine and was yet another factor in why I finally jumped into this series. Such a quick ending was disappointing.

Because I'm dumb like that, I faith-bought the entire series at once and can't return them. Maybe I'll get to the other books of Kagawa's series at some point and see if they are any better than The Iron King. It feels like this review is too short, but there's simply no more I feel needs to be said.
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30 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2010
Take Labyrinth, crash it full-speed into The Neverending Story, and mix well with The Matrix, and that's just a taste of the wildly imaginative ride you'll go on when you read THE IRON KING. It's such a pleasure to read a contemporary fantasy that's fresh and full of action, and doubly a pleasure to read the first of a series that stands completely on its own. This book is a fantastic voyage and a satisfying read, and now I'm heartbroken that I have to wait until next fall to get another bite. Highly recommended!
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63 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2010
Am I the only one who noticed that this book is an absolute, total rip-off of the 1986 Jim Henson film, Labyrinth???
Julie Kagawa should be sued by the Jim Henson Company for plagiarism.
The similarities are just too many to ignore:
16 year old girl's baby brother is stolen by a faerie king who rules goblins/gremlins? Check.
Step parent? Check.
Big, tied up creature who should be eating said girl & companions but instead helps them escape after she unties him & sets him free? Check.
Said creature growling "Friend" in reference to girl who set him free? Check!
Romantic dance in a ballroom wearing a pretty gown with a dark, dangerous but alluring faerie prince/king? Check.
Lost in a garbage dump surrounded by little creatures that collect junk & tie them to their backs so they look like walking mounds of junk? Check.
Eating of faerie fruit offered by loyal side-kick with bad results? Check.
Huge metal robot-type thing hell-bent on killing/thwarting heroine and & loyal posse on their way to the king's castle? Check.
When girl finally comes face to face with faerie king who stole her brother, he offers her everything; his entire kingdom and all he has to offer in return for her love? Yup. Check.
The real question here is: what DIDN'T Julie Kagawa steal from Labyrinth???
Errr.. the answer to that question is the Cheshire Cat thinggie which she stole from Alice in Wonderland - and don't get me started on the similarities between those two!
Its a shame, really. I SO wanted to love this book but as I kept reading, the only thing that ran through my mind was "You have GOT to be kidding me. Did she just pop the DVD in and write down what she saw?"
All I can say is this - If you've seen Labyrinth, then you've read this book; don't waste your time & money!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2015
The young adult fiction book The Iron King is a great novel by Julie Kagawa. The book ties in fantasy like elements with real life situations that occur with the main character Meghan Chase. The book is also action packed and entertaining with the thrilling events that happens within the book whether its real world problems or Meghan simply trying to fit in with her fairy like ways and family. I definitely recommend the book to young adult readers.

The plot is complex and original which keeps the book from being too cliche while also being entertaining and keeping a readers focus. The story revolves around Meghan Chase, a fifteen going on sixteen year old girl. She comes from a middle class family with a little brother, a busy mom and a plain stepdad. Everything changes when her brother has been replaced with a harmful clone and Megan's world is completely shaken up. She goes on a search for her younger brother and while doing so, she runs into a creature that offers to help her find her brother and get him back from a fairy like world. Meghan agrees and enters a world with lots of old folktale characters, magic, and tricks. What's so great about the plot is that everything ties together perfectly. The things that happen in the real world occur in the fairy kingdom too which explains a lot of things that happen to Meghan.

Another cool thing about the book is the characters themselves. They are very entertaining and while they’re personalities are different, they complete, almost compliment each other. Starting off with Meghan, the main character, she is very shy and strong willed. Meghan is different and accepts things as they are and just almost go along with everything that happens. When big problems happen, Meghan defends herself and speaks up, accepting the consequences. Her best friend, “Puck” or the infamous Robin Goodfellow, is funny, slick and almost goofy. After he reveals his true form to Meghan, readers get to see the not so serious side of Puck. He is entertaining and gives readers a good laugh. Megan's’ love interest, Ash, is much more serious and cold. He’s mysterious and comes off as rude at times. Ash and Puck tend to bicker and fight which isn’t serious but it’s always a good laugh to watch them go at it and dual. In all the characters complete each other. Without one we wouldn’t see a trait from another.

Addition to the plot and characters, another great reason to read “The Iron King” is that the book is very fun to read. The book isn’t boring at all and the great thing about it is that the book opens readers minds to many more genres. If someone doesn’t like fantasy novels, “The Iron King” will definitely change their minds. It isn’t overly fairytale like, and it isn’t plain with it. Also it has adventure in it which is also nice to read about and the places that the book takes readers through is new and exciting. Another cool thing about the novel is that it has romance that is appropriate. Every once and while a moment happens between Megahan and Ash and it will be brief and leave the reader with a “What will happen?” attitude which is great in any book to me. If the author has the reader attention thats great. Everyone that reads the book will find something about it that they like which is better than more ways than one. It helps readers broaden their horizons.

I definitely recommend the book to readers who love adventure and fantasy books. The novel has a little bit of every genre in it that isn’t sloppy. The novel is well written and easy for readers to understand with all that is happening. I expect the squeals to meet up to this novels standard. This book has set the bar very high and it made me a very big fan of her writing. I’ve read some of her other work in the past and even though this one is pretty old, I enjoyed it. I started the book in February and wasn’t able to put it down ever since I picked it up. Julie is a very entertaining author with great stories.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2012
** 3 1/2 Stars **

I had an extremely hard time getting into and staying interested in this novel. There wasn't one spot in the entire 300+ pages that I ever got excited about. I generally enjoy novels about the fey but this wasn't one that piqued my interest or my curiosity enough to continue reading the rest (maybe....). I've never read William Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream so maybe a lot of the book was lost in translation.

I did empathize with Meghan and how she was treated at home and at school. Her mother and stepfather could be considered guilty of borderline neglect regarding their care and responsibility to Meghan. Her living conditions were the subject of scorn, ridicule, and humiliation--through no fault of her own.

I can't complain about the development of the characters. The author did an excellent job introducing each player in this otherworldly adventure. Meghan was a typical, impulsive teenager that was realistic in her reasons for wanting to infiltrate the new world she'd been shielded from her entire life. What wasn't realistic about Meghan, though, was her complete and absolute acceptance of that mythical world becoming her new reality. I'm afraid that I wouldn't have been so receptive so quickly. Puck/Robbie's character seems to genuinely adore Meghan regardless of the who's and why's of his insertion into her life. Of course, Meghan is blind to this devotion. It wouldn't be a love triangle without one boy being exactly what Meghan need,s but she is too dumb to notice, and the other boy being a completely horrible match for Meghan, and him being the one she wants...which leads me to Ash. Ash is...well...a typical brooding male that does and says things that keeps Meghan on an ever moving roller coaster...does he truly like her or is he just being helpful (in the Ash-definition of helpful) because she's a pawn in the game between his ruler and Meghan's father? My favorite creature in this book is Grimalkin, the talking cat. He assists her in several situations that she would have otherwise been unable to manipulate to her benefit or pull herself out of when she did something irrational or without thinking of the consequences first.

The descriptions of the scenery/landscape was easily drawn in my mind and everything did flow well. However, I think the book is a bit bland. Some of the dialogue didn't flow well between the characters at times and, while I know this is a paranormal fiction story, some of the plot just wasn't believable. I had to renew the book 3 times at my library because I just wasn't excited to sit down and keep reading it. I almost pulled a CNF (could not finish) on this book. I'm still trying to decide if I will continue on with Book 2; although the ending of Book 1 almost pulled me right back into Kagawa's land of mysterious creatures.

I wanted to LOVE this book, really, I did! I tried my hardest to open my mind to the story, the characters, the intent, but ended up being hugely disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2010
Ever since the disappearance of her father when she was six, things have never been right for Meghan Chase. Now living with her step-father, mother, and half-brother, Meghan is about to turn sixteen and life as she knows it will never be the same. Pulled into a world of Faeries, Piskies, and other mystical creatures, Meghan learns her life-time best friend is not who she thinks he is, and her destiny is one she was never prepared for. As the daughter of a mystical faery king, Meghan must defend her birthright and fight feelings for an enemy boy. In this mystical tale of honor, love and war, Meghan Chase not only has to survive being sixteen, but now must save those she cares for the most.

I had a hard time with this book in the beginning. The similarities to Alice In Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia really bothered me. Once I was able to look past these similarities and see this novel as something of its own, I actually started to enjoy it. I wish that Julie Kagawa had tried a bit harder to make this something completely different. The plot in itself was great and I really liked the main characters, but the first two parts of the book just were not original enough for me. It was just another story of two opposing courts, similar to the red queen and the white queen in Wonderland, and their battles with each other. Meghan Chase even gets to this land through a closet. I just could not get passed the similarities to other popular fantasy stories. However, putting that all aside, I was finally drawn in during part three. I enjoyed the relationship between Meghan and Ash, and I absolutely loved Puck. For those facts alone, I will read the next installment, and I hope that in The Iron Daughter, I will feel like I'm reading something new and not a copy of an already existing story. All in all, the story was interesting, the characters were great, I just don't feel like this was something original and new to read.

Review Originally posted on my blog Draw A Blank.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I got this book from my local public library! I can say whatever I want. :)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 23, 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Meghan Chase is a pretty typical teenager. She is looking forward to turning 16 and getting her driver's permit if her mother actually remembers to take her for the exam. She doesn't really get along with her mother or stepfather and she feels like she is invisible to those around her. Meghan feels like only two people in her life really see her: her little brother, Ethan, and best friend, Robbie. Ethan has been complaining lately about a scary man in his closet, but everyone knows that monsters aren't real, right? Besides, Meghan has her own problems. A nasty prank is played on her at school and she has started to see strange things, like the gorgeous knight on a horse in the middle of the swamp. But Meghan's life gets really complicated when she arrives home one day to realize that Ethan isn't himself. He is acting strangely and has very sharp teeth and claws. Meghan knows that something terrible has happened to Ethan, but she has no idea that the Ethan in her house is actually a changeling and that the real Ethan has been taken to the Nevernever, the land of Faery. She is further stunned to discover that her best friend, Robbie, is better known as Robin Goodfellow or Puck. He has been chosen to guard her and keep her from discovering her true identity as the daughter of King Oberon. Meghan is still reeling from all of these sudden declarations as she makes her choice to enter the land of the Nevernever in pursuit of her beloved younger brother. But is she prepared to take on the land of faery and all of the dangers that lie therein...?

I was a bit skeptical of this book at first as I did not really enjoy the first couple of chapters set in the human world, but as soon as Meghan steps into the Nevernever, the story really takes off! This is a breakneck adventure with constant action taking place in every chapter. One of the best parts of the book is Julie Kagawa's extensive knowledge of faery folklore. She brings in all of the typical creatures including the Seelie & Unseelie courts of the Fey (light and dark faeries), trolls, ogres, goblins, satyrs and pixies, as well as the lesser known redcaps, chimeras, cait siths and more. I really enjoyed learning about all of the fey creatures that exist in the Nevernever and Kagawa's descriptions were thorough without becoming too in depth and slowing down the story. Each type of fey is only featured for a very short time, though, so enjoy the action while you can!

The plot is pretty simple as Meghan is searching for her brother, Ethan, in a foreign land, but the adventures that Meghan experiences along the way are what makes it fun! You know that eventually you will get from point A to point B, but I enjoyed the challenges and triumphs along the way. I also thought that the romance was a very nice subplot of this book. Usually, you are hit over the head pretty quickly with romance in books like this one, but there is a nice, slow build up of tension and attraction in this book. Sparks are flying all over the place and I was wondering if the two romantic leads are ever going to find a way to be together - good thing there are two more books in this series to come!

My main complaint with the book is the rather shallow characterization. I felt like I was traveling along with an acquaintance when I wanted to have a good friend by my side. I learned quite a bit about Meghan as she reacted to situations in the book, but I still felt like she was not fully developed and that she was not a real person. I also felt like the author relied on the capricious nature of the fey to excuse herself from fully developing their characters in any way. Puck, in particular, just gets to react however he wants and to be a trickster, a best friend, a potential romantic interest, a great fighter and whatever other role he is called upon to play at that particular moment. I liked Puck and I liked Ash, the Unseelie Prince, but I am hoping that I get to know a lot more about them in the future books to come. Ironically, the most interesting character in the book for me is the cat, Grimalkin. He reminded me a lot of the Cheshire Cat, in turns helpful and exasperating with a nasty habit of disappearing just when needed most.

There is a lot to enjoy in this book and I am thrilled to know that I will have an opportunity to visit this world again! If you enjoy fantasy books or romance books or teen books, you will find something to like in this book. It is a great adventure and, once the action begins, it does not let up until the last page - I can't wait for the next one to come out!
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