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Book Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

I ended up choosing this book as my first vacation read. It was both a great choice and a terrible choice: I loved reading it so much that my down time was spent feverishly reading The Iron King instead of doing other important thing like, you know, sleeping. 😀

Title & Author: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Genre: YA/Fantasy-Fairies

Release Date: February 1, 2010

Series: Book 1 in a series (next up: The Iron Daughter, The Iron Queen)

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

How I Got the Book: Bought

Description: “Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.”


The description does a great job, so the only thing I’ll add is: OMG FAIRIES!

Dark & Descriptive

I haven’t read too many books about fairies. The last one I can remember reading was Tithe by Holly Black, so needless to say, this book had a lot to live up to. The Iron King didn’t disappoint. The fairy world, or Nevernever, is just as dark and twisted as I thought it would be.

I think Kagawa does a great job of describing everything- Megan’s confusion about her dad and the past, the frightening (in a good way) ice prince Ash and the dark ways of the fey. I love reading about complicated or conflicted characters. It drives the story and keeps me guessing what will happen next.

Ash is wondrously conflicted, and I love how he’s a prince of the winter fey while Meghan is a princess of the summer fey. Sigh- they’re on opposite sides already. Ash makes me think of high school boys who are arrogant with just a hint of vulnerability. The ability to be remote, dangerous and wounded is the perfect combination to make girls swoon. Ladies meet Ash; Ash, the ladies. 🙂

The dark elements of the book kept me fascinated with the world of Nevernever but left me feeling a little disturbed. After reading The Hunger Games, I really started to think about the presence of violence in young adult books. How much is too much?

I didn’t think this book was overly gory or anywhere near the level of violence in The Hunger Games, but it could be too much for the younger side of YA, like 13 or 14-year-olds. Kagawa does not shy away from killing characters or describing brutal fight scenes.

Conflicted Feelings about Romance

The struggle I face when reading any story happens when I start thinking about the speed at which characters fall in love. If it takes too long, I’m annoyed that there’s too much mooning and googly eyes and not enough talking/acting. If it seems too short, I’m frustrated at how unrealistically fast the characters become deeply in love with each other. It’s an internal struggle that I just can’t win.

With my weird sense of romantic balance, I thought Meghan crushes pretty hard on Ash but at a nicely-paced speed. She thinks he’s gorgeous but is seemingly aware of the danger involved in liking winter fey nobility like him. Does it stop her? Of course not!! If you had any doubt, please read more YA fiction. 🙂 You will never be disappointed!

Plus, there’s a tiny hint at a juicy love triangle coming up in future books (Megan, Ash and Megan’s best friend Puck?). I’m such a sucker for this stuff.

I do have different opinions about the romantical development (a scientific term) in the next book, The Iron Daughter, but I’ll get to that in my upcoming review…


The Iron King is the perfect seque into the world of fairies. It brings all the mystique and darkness that the fey are known for while keeping things upbeat and fun by following the adventures of Meghan, Ash and Puck. I loved venturing in the land of Nevernever and getting a glimpse of the creepy world of the Iron Fey.

I can’t wait to start reading The Iron Queen and any future books by Kagawa!

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • The series gets even better with each book. I had to chuckle when I read your comment about the level of violence not being as bad as the HungerGames, not because it’s funny, but as soon as I read it I though “no one kills a character like Suzanne Collins, no one.” Enough of my random thoughts, great review!
    Truly Bookish

  • Like Truly Bookish said, I to have heard, this series gets better with each book. I do agree this is one that is perfect with limited violence. I wonder how much is to much as well. This was a very nice read. I don’t know if it’s as AMAZING for me as others have said, but I did enjoy it and will keep reading the series. Great review!

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  • Great review! I’ve wanted to read this for a while but I never actually did. Your review convinced me, though! I think I’m going to read this during my summer break…

    • Lisa

      Haha! I’m glad you’re convinced! It really is a great book and a perfect summer read! Can’t wait to see what you think!! 🙂