The Iron King is the first book in Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Fey series. The Iron King follows Meghan Chase, a perfectly ordinary high school teenager, who just wants some attention from the cutest guy in school, Scott Waldron. Unfortunately for Meghan, she’s just a poor farm girl, and the only two people who acknowledge her existence are her four-year-old half-brother Ethan and her neighbor and best friend, Robbie Goodfell.
As Meghan turns sixteen, however, she discovers that she is half-fey; she is the daughter of Oberon, King of the Seelie (or Summer) Court. When faeries kidnap Ethan and replace him with a vicious changeling, Meghan is forced to venture into the fairy-land of NeverNever to rescue him.
Tribute to everything fantastic
The Iron King draws on many sources. The Seelie court is loosely based on characters from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Oberon is king, Titania is queen, and Meghan’s best friend Robbie is actually Robin “Puck” Goodfellow, trickster and knave to Oberon. The closet entrance to NeverNever is reminiscent of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Grimalkin the cait sith is a mysterious and unconventially-helpful guide like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. Since NeverNever is fueled by human imagination, it makes sense that everything is at once fantastic but familiar. And now that human lives are so dominated by technology, these new technological fantasies have spawned a new power—the Iron King. Even though combining all of these eclectic elements may sound hodgepodge, Kagawa blends this all together seamlessly and in the process creates her own unique world inspired by a love of all things fantastic.
Team Puck v. Team Ash
Somehow in the first three paragraphs above, I managed to leave out a major love interest, the youngest prince of the Unseelie (or Winter) Court, Prince Ash. Both Ash and Puck vie for Meghan’s love, setting up the biggest showdown since Edward and Jacob fought over Bella in the Twilight series. This setup may be tired in the hands of a less capable author, but Kagawa has the uncanny ability to infuse clichés with freshness. I suspect I may be rooting for the losing team, but both love interests possess enough winning qualities to keep fangirls on both sides swooning.
Kagawa writes in a breezy style that keeps the reader turning the pages. Though some may find this book to be a fast read, everyone will get a lot of entertainment in return. The Iron King has a strong storyline accompanied by a compelling cast of characters, lead and supporting alike.
Why should you read this book?
The Iron King is an exceptionally well-written book that deserves the kind of attention showered upon Twilight. Twilight fans will definitely enjoy The Iron King—but so will the Twilight detractors! Kagawa’s love for fantasy really shines through the obligatory teenage angst, and she covers the spectrum from genuinely scary moments to fairy-land fun, making The Iron King a delightful romp for the readers.