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Tag: Fae

READING THE TBR, DAY 20: The Iron Knight (2011) by Julie Kagawa

You know what made The Iron Knight the best book of this series so far? Almost no Meghan. Heroine and main POV of the first three books, here she is effectively sidelined after she so spectacularly took possession of the Iron Realm in the last one (it’s a thing; just pretend you know what that means) and was forced to part from her Dearest Love and Only Thought She Ever Has EVER, Ash, prince of the fae.

But Ash is equally obsessed with Meghan, and so this book is taken up with him attempting to find a way into the Iron Realm to be with her. Except! The only way he can do that is to gain a soul. (Why don’t fae have souls? What even ARE souls? And what do souls have to do with anything, anyway? Oh, silly human, don’t ask such impertinent questions. Just watch some Buffy the Vampire Slayer and take it as read that in order to be a real person you need a soul. Period.) 

Ash, in company of Robin Goodfellow, who also loves Meghan — so much that he helps Ash try to get to her; selfless and adorable, he deserves so much better — and the snarky Grimalkin, whimsical kitty-cat guide, along with some friends old and new, spends the book undergoing tests to prove himself worthy, and has a couple of big decisions to make, especially when he is confronted with the reality of his Perfect Dead Girlfriend, the dreary Ariella.

It’s all very exciting, there are many twists and turns and terrors to face, and between it all, Ash almost has us convinced that Meghan is worth all this trouble. Then we see her again and, well, no. Pah. Meghan. She’s worse than Ariella, almost. Turns out Ash has a type.

And with this, the fourth book, the Iron Fey series is at last complete, so hurrah for that! There is a follow-up trilogy, The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, all about Ethan Chase, Meghan’s younger brother, whose abduction in the first book began all this wackiness… but yeah, nah. I think I’m done.

Bye, Nevernever! I’ll never, never see you again. And I’m cool with that.

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TBR DAY 20: The Iron Knight (Iron Fey #4) by Julie Kagawa
GENRE: YA Fantasy
PUBLISHED: 2011 
TIME ON THE TBR: 2 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: Op shop.
KEEP: No.

READING THE TBR, DAY 19: The Iron Queen (2011) by Julie Kagawa

It is a truth of Fantasy novels that one can just add an apostrophe and a character’s name becomes infinitely more exotic. In The Iron Queen, we learn our broody, icy hero Ash’s full name — Ashallyn’darkmyr Tallyn — and well, good thing the apostrophe is there, or that would have been one boring and pedestrian moniker to saddle on a fae prince.

(I have to admit, I am a sucker for an exoticized Fantasy — or, it must be said, Science Fiction — name, and apostrophes are my favourite way to do it. So when I read this name, Ash got forty percent hotter. I have no excuse.)

The Iron Queen itself, meanwhile, is at least forty percent better than its lacklustre preceding title, and even a step up from the first book in the series, which I really quite enjoyed. It gives us depth and breadth to the fantastical fae world in which we dwell, and also — crucially — makes of our heroine Meghan Chase a far, far less want-to-slap-her-across-the-face first person heroine than previous adventures suggested she could ever become. Sure, she still spends a lot of time sighing wistfully over her man, the aforementioned — and in the book, constantly mentioned — Ash, and she still isn’t very nice to her WAY BETTER THAN HER best friend Robbie aka Robin Goodfellow aka Puck, but she makes sense, some solid decisions, and a major sacrifice in here, which makes me like her.

Like, astonishingly a lot.

Still, she remains far from my favourite character — the series does not need her. I would read a whole spin-off adventure about Grimalkin, the talking fae cat who is disdainful and uppity, selfish and mercurial, vicious and sly, but also honourable and lovable. (So, a cat.)

I’d like him even more if he was named G’rimalkin. Grim’alkin, maybe? But again, that is my issue.

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TBR DAY 19: The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3) by Julie Kagawa
GENRE: YA Fantasy
PUBLISHED: 2011 
TIME ON THE TBR: 2 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: Op shop.
KEEP: No.

READING THE TBR, DAY 18: The Iron Daughter (2010) by Julie Kagawa

When last we left sixteen-year-old Meghan Chase (for me, it was yesterday!), she had just been summoned back into the fairy land of Nevernever by the hot but snide fairy prince Ash, son of Queen Mab of the Winter Court. For those who don’t know the popular fairy lore as established in Urban Fantasy fiction of the past couple of decades, there are two Royal Courts among these sprites and pixies — the Summer Court, most famously run by Oberon and Titania (see A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and the Winter Court, ruled by Queen Mab (another Shakespeare reference, mentioned in Romeo and Juliet). 

But in the Iron Fey series, there is a third realm, the Iron Court, and in this series’ first installment, our Awkward and Insecure Misfit Teen Heroine killed its diabolical king and took his power. (Of course.) Here, she is in the Winter Court, and Ash, her erstwhile love interest, not only pretends they’ve barely met but is actively, aggressively awful to her — but still she loves him so! She cries and worries about him and is infatuation incarnate; the worse he treats her, the more fascinated she becomes.

It’s hard to read, but mostly because it’s such an accurate portrait of heightened teenage “love” that it is utterly cringeable. 

He, meanwhile, is obsessed with his dead ex, who was apparently Perfect in Every Way, and not only does Meghan have to hear all about that, but she also has to try to track down a missing sceptre than controls the weather (oh yeah, there’s a fairy land plot here, not just TEEN ANGST ALL THE TIME) and take time out of her busy schedule to totally mess with her best friend’s feelings by going full Bella-and-Jacob on him — when at last he shows up. Book, why does it take over a hundred pages for you to Robbie? Robbie is your best character! 

Well, him and Ironhorse.

Did I like The Iron Daughter? Um… no? Yes? Kind of? I definitely did not like Meghan very much in this book, she is bratty and weepy and almost unrecognisable from the much more kickass incarnation I met in the previous outing. (Again: yesterday.) It can be very difficult to get the full comfort-read experience from a book when you spend most of the time despising its protagonist. But then, I know real life teenagers who would definitely react just as outrageously as she does to most every situation and attack in this book — indeed, I probably was one myself, back in the dim dark. So, for all that she is THE WORST in so much of this, and you just want to scream at her to HAVE SOME DIGNITY FOR OBERON’S SAKE YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS, you also have to acknowledge that half the reason she grates so much is because she is such a sobering mirror to look into.

And once we “learn” the reasons behind Ash’s perfidy (of course, we’d already guessed; we’ve read, well, anything before) and the sacrifice he makes for her at this book’s cliffhanger-y conclusion, at least it is enough to validate Meghan’s crazy, even if not excuse her passivity or treatment of poor, poor Robbie. 

Wow, I had more thoughts on that one than I’d predicted. Next up is The Iron Queen, and okay. Cool. Not spoilery at all there, title. 

I’m not gonna lie, I am very concerned.

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TBR DAY 18: The Iron King (Iron Fey #2) by Julie Kagawa
GENRE: YA Fantasy
PUBLISHED: 2010 
TIME ON THE TBR: 2 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: Op shop.
KEEP: No.

READING THE TBR, DAY 17: The Iron King (2010) by Julie Kagawa

YA Fantasy is one of my favourite comfort-read genres, but its proliferation in the last decade or so has meant that keeping up with its many, many iterations has been nigh on impossible. This is the only explanation I have for having overlooked Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series for so long, a clever and tumultuous and angst-filled Midsummer Night’s Dream-infused fancy that is a prime example of its field.

Meghan Chase is our usual Awkward and Insecure Misfit Teen Heroine, who finds herself immersed in a fairyland — the fairy land, called here the Nevernever — after her younger brother is replaced with a changeling and she and her best friend Robbie (who, it turns out, is from said fairy land himself, and is also her secret protector) plunge into a magical world in order to save him. And, of course, meet the third member of their inevitable love triangle.

His name is Ash, by the way. Ash is mean in just the right kind of YA alphahole manner that all the good girls want. 

Sorry, Robbie. Game over. 

Yes, it is all very silly, and there are times when Meghan is just so infuriating in her Awkward and Insecure Misfit Teen-ness, but for all her missteps and misjudgments, her histrionics and her highly annoying incompetence, she feels very real in even this most unreal of circumstances. When she flips out about stuff, it is justified, and when she makes mistakes — so many, many mistakes — it makes sense, and when she triumphs in any way, she has mostly earned it.

There are six books in this series, and I have them all (they were a bargain find at an op shop, $4 the lot!), and I liked this one enough that I am ready to dive right into all of them, one after the other. On the one hand just to be done with them and get them off my TBR and out of my life, but on the other hand because I am genuinely invested, now, in this alterna-world of the fae. I especially want to know more about Meghan’s place in it. 

Oh, did I mention she’s the daughter of the Fairy King?

I didn’t? 

But this is YA Fantasy, after all. Surely that was implied?

And it is, in fact, half the reason the book was so enjoyable. Because sometimes a well-executed version of a well-worn and well-loved trope is all you need to switch off your busy mind and send you into sweet, sweet, mindless (midsummer night’s) dreams.  

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TBR DAY 17: The Iron King (Iron Fey #1) by Julie Kagawa
GENRE: YA Fantasy
PUBLISHED: 2010 
TIME ON THE TBR: 2 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: Op shop.
KEEP: No.