Friday, October 25, 2013

REVIEW: THE IRON DAUGHTER (The Iron Fey, #2) by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron Daughter
Series: The Iron Fey, #2
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: August 1, 2010
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Reviewed by: Books4Tomorrow
Source: Purchased
My rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.


  
REVIEW

It’s happened too many times before that I’ve read the second book in a series and it simply didn’t live up to the awesomeness of its predecessor, so naturally, I expected it to be the same with The Iron Daughter. But as you can tell from my rating, I wasn’t disappointed at all. And what a relief that is, because I had high expectations for the second installment in the Iron Fey series. So let me jump right in and tell you why this book is going on my favorites shelf.

One of the many reasons I absolutely loved this book is that there’s a lot more humor in it than there was in the first book of this unparalleled series. Puck and Grimalkin constantly had me in stitches with their witty charm and tongue-in-cheek humor. 

Puck shoved the plate off the bed and leaned back, pulling me down with him, his lips suddenly at my neck, tracing a line of fire down my skin.
“If you are going to do that, would you mind not jostling the bed so much?” came a sarcastic voice near the headboard. “Perhaps you could roll around on the floor.”
Blushing furiously, I looked up. Grimalkin lay on the pillow, watching us with a bemused, half-lidded stare. Puck followed my gaze and let out an explosive sigh.
“Did I ever mention how much I hate cats?”
“Do not blame me, Goodfellow.” Grimalkin blinked, managing to sound bored and indignant at the same time. “I was minding my own business long before you and the princess started humping like rabbits.”

The humor, though, is only the tip of the iceberg. The dialogue between Meghan and Ash during their more intimate moments is easy and natural, and void of incessant confirmations of undying love; yet these are not omitted completely, but kept to a subtle minimum without losing the desired effect it is supposed to have on the reader. I adore how Kagawa get that some readers don’t need prolonged sweetly sticky declarations of love to understand how two characters feel about each other. I also find Meghan to be a really fantastic character. It took some time in the first book for me to get used to her, but in The Iron Daughter her character grows exponentially. She’s honest about her feelings and even though she pines away for Prince Ash, it never becomes an angst-fest of teen girl hormonal dramatics. Meghan truly is a well-balanced character who is strong when she needs to be, and a vulnerable girl with fears and doubts when the occasion calls for it.    

“You’re kind of blind, you know?” Puck whispered, smiling to soften his words.
“I wouldn’t defy Oberon for just anyone. But, for you...” He leaned forward, touching his forehead to mine. “I’d come back from the dead for you.”

I absolutely love Puck! I didn’t care so much for him in the previous book, but in book two he comes in at the right time, the right place; and with the right attitude to suit his character perfectly. I can say this about most of the characters, though. Kagawa really knows and understands her creations, and she brings them to life without holding anything back. Again, like she did in The Iron King, the author puts Meghan, and this time also Ash, through the wringer. She relentlessly stacks the odds against them, and along with a fast-paced plot and loads of adventure, I was teetering on the edge of my seat by the time I turned the final page.

The conflict between Ash and Puck continues, and in fact, escalates to new heights, adding to my enjoyment watching these two testosterone-driven fae trying to outdo each other for Meghan’s attention. To my delight and relief, Grimalkin hasn’t been forgotten and this adorable, yet deadly, cat once again entertained me with his antics. As much as I love cats, I doubt I’ll pick Grim up for a kitty cuddle. Which brings me to antagonists. There are quite a few of them this time around, and one of the “bad guys” from The Iron King returns as a less malevolent character for his role in The Iron Daughter. It occurred to me half way into the story why I love to hate the antagonists in this series. The author has the uncanny ability to create evil characters that aren’t caricatures of the villains we so often see on television and on the big screen. Take Leanansidhe, queen of the exiles, and Mab, queen of the Winter fae, for instance. We know they’re not the good guys and we’re not supposed to root for them, but at the same time you can’t help but sort of like them and hope they might change their ways and come to their senses, as the author gives them enough redeeming qualities to make the reader believe that these characters have the capacity for good. Of course the author does the same for the “good guys”, having them make dubious decisions for their own gain; decisions which aren’t always morally acceptable. I just love how all the characters – good and bad – challenge the reader to venture alongside them into the gray areas, and keep you speculating as to who can be trusted and who not. This is yet another testament to Kagawa’s ingenuity and how well she knows and understands her characters – all of them.

Kagawa has inarguably created some of the most exceptional characters I’ve ever come across in the fantasy genre, but even this is overshadowed by her phenomenal world building skills. The only other author I know who manages to create such realistic and unforgettable characters and settings is George R.R. Martin with his A Song of Ice and Fire series. The world building for this book and its predecessor is so expertly and artistically done, if I didn’t know any better I would easily believe Kagawa is secretly half fae and grew up in the Nevernever. She has proven herself to be a masterful storyteller and I am utterly enchanted and blown away by her tales! As an added bonus a Survival Guide to the Nevernever is included to “give intrepid travellers into the realm of the fey a minimal chance at surviving the creatures and denizens that dwell within.

I recommend this series to fantasy lovers and anybody looking for an escape to another world that’s very far removed from our reality. It’s preferable that you read The Iron King first before reading this book; otherwise you’ll miss out on a lot that’s happened up to this point in the Iron Fey series.




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The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa has 3 526 reviews on Goodreads. Read it here.

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