This review contains minor spoilers for the previous volumes in The Iron Fey series.
The Iron Queen is the third book in Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Fey series. Having previously defeated Virus, one of the false Iron King’s minions, Meghan Chase is called back to NeverNever to finish off the false Iron King himself. Even though iron can be deadly to both Summer and Winter fey, Queen Mab, leader of the Unseelie (Winter) Court, has figured out a way to craft protective amulets for Ash, Puck, and Grimalkin, so that these trusty companions can aid Meghan in her quest.
A slow start
Meghan mostly relies on her wit in the first two books to defeat her enemies, but in The Iron Queen, she decides to train physically and magically. While interesting, the training spans the first one-third of the book, and there’s something off-putting about extensive training scenes for a protagonist so late in the series. Additionally, once the adventure begins, The Iron Queen never quite matches the momentum of the first two books, even though it features one of the largest battle scenes yet. Further, as discussed below, the fun quotient drops as the characters argue amongst themselves.
Can’t we all just get along?
Despite Meghan’s efforts in the first two books, NeverNever is still in danger. This plight and the explosive tension built up from the love triangle inevitably lead to high stress. But the characters seem particularly impatient with each other, becoming unreasonably angered by any slight. Meghan is angry at Puck for lying to her, even though Meghan should know that Puck’s actions actually resulted in the best situation possible. Ash is angry at Meghan for saying things that are offensive to a fey, even though Ash should know that Meghan is actually looking out for him. Meghan is angry at Grimalkin for providing the ingredients for the amulets, even though Meghan should know that no trust was betrayed and the amulets are essential for her consorts. Meghan even yells at a gremlin for failing to follow an order, right before discovering that the gremlin actually did follow her order. While NeverNever remains as magical as ever, Meghan’s moodiness affected my enjoyment of this book.
Creepy old men
I understand that both Puck and Ash love Meghan, even though both are much, much older than she is. Puck’s age did not bother me in the past, since he’s a trickster who will always be young at heart. Ash’s age also did not bother me, since no matter how old he gets, he’s still always seen as the youngest son. But as the plot progresses and the romantic relationships grow more serious in The Iron Daughter, I find myself bothered by the age differences. Perhaps this struck me when Puck revealed that he has always been in love with Meghan (who is only seventeen), which necessarily implies he was in love with her even at an elementary-school age. Or this may have struck me when Ash delved into additional detail about his long, long past. Whatever it was, I definitely felt a slight increase in the “ick” factor. To Kagawa’s credit, however, she’s got a strong enough handle on the prose and the story to overcome any obstacle.
Why should you read this book?
While this review emphasized my qualms, I nevertheless enjoyed reading The Iron Queen and spending time with characters I loved, even if they were crankier. Also, we’re given a preview for book four, The Iron Knight, told from Ash’s point of view; if the preview is any indication, The Iron Knight is not to be missed. To prepare for the next installment in this imaginative series, you’ll have to read The Iron Queen.
Benni received a review copy courtesy of Harlequin Teen.