I have a love/hate relationship with Young Adult (YA) books. While some people believe that your teenage years are the “golden years”, I heartily disagree. Even though I did have fun and I had great friends, I found those years painful and awkward. Teenagers can be emotional, hormonal, bratty, sarcastic, and self-centered. I was no exception, and I often cringe when I think back on my actions and behaviors. I have found myself wishing I could go back and slap some sense into my teenage self. Not that it would have worked. Teenage me would have rolled her eyes and, with a heavy sigh, told adult me to mind my own business. And that is precisely my problem with some YA books. They can be a painful reminder of my teenage attitude and blundering, andI would rather not dwell on that.
So, I felt a little hesitant about listening to The Iron King. Would the protagonist be a whiny, eye-rolling teenager? Would I want to yell at her? However, I love fantasy books, and the plot sounded good, so I decided to give it a try. For the most part, I was pleasantly (and thankfully) surprised.
Meghan Chase lives in rural Louisiana. Her father disappeared when she was young, and her mother remarried and had another child with her new husband. The family is poor and lives outside of town. The other students at her high school refer to her as the weird swamp girl. She only has one friend, Puck, although she knows little about him.
One day, Meghan’s little brother is abducted. Puck confesses he is a fairy that has been sent to watch over her. They learn that Meghan’s brother has been taken by fey creatures to the Never Never. Meghan convinces Puck to take her to the Never Never to rescue her brother. While there, she discovers her real heritage and lands in the middle of a struggle between opposing groups of fey.
The story borrows several themes from mythology and other tales. However, the author adds her own unique spin by combining steampunk elements and the effects of modern humans on the Never Never. As a huge fan of steampunk, I greatly appreciated those touches. While Meghan definitely acts like a teenager, she isn’t overly dramatic or self-centered. She experiences inconsistencies and indecision, like most teens. Sometimes, she is strong and self-assured, other times, she depends heavily on those around her. But through it all, she follows her moral and inner code. She stays focused on helping rescue her brother, and she shows empathy for those around her.
The book starts out slow, but once Meghan arrives in the Never Never, things get rolling. My biggest complaint was the narration. The narration of many of the male voices sounded almost like a caricature. I found most of the male voices annoying, especially those of the males in Louisiana. Southern males DO NOT sound like that. That detail left ME rolling my eyes.
The Iron King is book 1 in the Iron Fey series which currently includes 4 books and 3 novellas. I enjoyed this book enough to continue with the series. I’ve already purchased book 2. However, I would only recommend this book for fans of fantasy or YA books. If those are not the droids you’re seeking, than this book is not for you.
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Books SA
Date Published: February 1, 2010
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Source: Audible (my own collection)