Review: The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Sunday, July 24, 2011

 Before we get to the review, I'd like to direct your attention to the Book Base. I recently did an interview with the awesome James, who was kind enough to post it yesterday. I'd love it if you were to stop on by and check it out!

Author: Julie Kagwa
Genre: young-adult, supernatural/fae
Series: The Iron Fey #2
Pages: 203 (nook Ebook version)
Published: August 2010
Source: won in a giveaway
Rating: 3.5/5
Tagline: Love & betrayal, 
a faery world gone mad

Round number two in the Iron Fey series with Meghan Chase might suffer slightly from a sophmore slump, however, as it was the middle branching book in an (originally) planned series of three, some faults were to expected. A bit uneven with pacing and tension (the Winter Formal high school dance scene tossed into the action threw me off for several pages), this was nevertheless a fun, diverting journey into a fully-realized and often strange world. In this book, we find Meghan in the hostile Winter Court, having just killed the Iron King to save the Nevernever from his poison.

This second installment jumps off from the first page; it almost feels like an extension from book one, a later chapter in that same book. The ease with which I was caught up in Meghan's mind and world was astonishing: it was as if I had never left. Though this was a book much more emotional in tone (I'll get to that in a bit) and feeling, I had the same sense of fun and adventure, mixed with interesting and dangerous fae creatures that I experienced and so delighted in while reading The Iron King. The mix of traditional faery lore coupled with new, innovative and creative mythology is unique to Kagawa and absolutely well-thought out and planned. I hate when authors have a great concept and only use it half-heartedly; the fully-realized Iron fey that Ms. Kagawa has envisioned is the best hook this book has to offer. While there is the traditional Summer/Winter Court animosity to keep the both the tension and stakes high, it is the mysterious and implacable Iron Court which dictates the dance those two powers will play. While the first book's plot was simple and essentially outlined from the first chapter, the plot of this second book is more nebulous, with several different subthreads throughout the story.

One of the things I did not love so much about the Iron Daughter was the teenage "why doesn't he love me anymore" angst. Meghan is in love with a mortal enemy of her people, had been warned many times (in The Iron King, Winter's Passage, the beginning of this very novel) that weakness is death in the Winter Court and he cannot be weak in his love for her. Instead of accepting that, hey, I'm in my enemy's palace, maybe I should do what I am told Meghan has an emotional hissyfit over Ash's "aloofness." It is very grating on my nerves that a previously capable, intelligent and independent girl cannot handle a situation she's been continually forewarned about. Instead of using her brain to realize Ash is protecting her as best as is possible, Meghan lost major points with me for being too Bella Swan-esque. A character that was not that naive and silly previous to this event frustrated me more than anything else in the novel. Another minor irritation of mine was that in this novel, Meghan forgets several key "faeryland laws" she KNEW in the first book! A little continuity, please -- either Meghan knows not to eat the food, or she doesn't. The constant back-and-forth of what she does know versus what she should know got old.

I was happy to see that the Winter Court was more expanded upon. In its madcap, viscous and chaotic way, the Court and its sidhe were described beautifully and hauntingly. I find myself wishing for more glimpses into the day-to-day life of the fae in this realm, and in the Summer Court. While Mab doesn't appear enough to give a sense of an individual personality (besides a White Witch proclivity to freeze her enemies alive in ice), her two sons besides Ash do finally make appearances. Sadly, besides our well-known players from before and the two Winter Princes Sage and Rowan, no other character in the Winter Court is fleshed out enough to make a permanent impression. This is a problem I had with the secondary villains as well. Only one villain SPOILER (coughRowancough) was malicious enough and present enough to really achieve the same level of malevolence as the Iron King from the first book.

Sadly, a couple scenes almost feel like filler, and the first quarter moves more slowly than the rest of the novel. However, once the titular Iron Fey are introduced back in the fray, calamitous things start to happen and fast.  The love triangle because solidified as both Ash and Puck are drawn to the half-human Summer princess, but happily it does not overtake essential plotlines with its banality. The constant repartee between the two male sidhe is amusing and real; they come across as two teenage boys trying to constantly out-do the other. The camaraderie that has built around Meghan's little band (Ash, Puck, Grim, Ironhorse, etc.) enhances successively, the more this disparate group works together. In a world full of segregation and hate, it is interesting to see that the only people/fae that continually save the Nevernever are a ragtag, motley bunch that should never have met, nor even suffered the others to live. In a world of intolerance, these characters are the only ones to display humanity. Meghan, for all her problems and her family in the real world, refuses to walk away and take the easy road. Ash, as Winter Prince, rebels against laws he's followed his whole life. Puck disobeys Oberon numerous times to help Meghan. These characteristics have made me love these characters.

The uneven pacing, and random filler scenes, along with Meghan's initial personality change, make this a more uneven novel than the first. Still enjoyable, still fun and original, The Iron Daughter suffers from many of the problems of being a "mid book" in a trilogy (though now there are four novels - quadrology?) By no means did these relatively small problems in the novel dissuade from my affection for this series/author/heroine/Ash - I am jumping into The Iron Queen later today.


  1. I haven't read many series. I'm on the second Hunger Games and feel like it's even better than the first (so far). It sounds like this one was enjoyable but you had to make a lot of allowances first.

  2. Thanks for your very insightful review.
    Also, I appreciate you stopping at my blog and commenting for a chance to win Beautifully Broken. :)
    Laurie's Thoughts & Reviews

  3. Laurie: I'm already entered, but thank you!

    Libby: I agree. The first had its problems (as do books 2 and 3 since it wasn't planned as a trilogy and she had to make it on after the first was published) but I think they get better as they go. I'm a big Katniss fan though - that's a heroine I truly loved.


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