Saturday, 14 August 2010

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Spoiler warning! Some minor spoilers for the first book of the series, The Iron King, below.

"'I've been in the palace of the Winter fey for a while now. How long exactly? I don't know. Time doesn't flow right in this place. If I ever get out of here, I might find a hundred years have passed and all my friends are long dead.

I try not to think about that, but sometimes I can't help but wonder.

My name is Meghan Chase.'

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."

This is the second book in the Iron Fey series. I liked the first book, The Iron King, but didn't love it. I thought it was good, well written and interesting, but it's rare for a book focusing on faeries to really capture me. But I liked it enough to keep reading and I am so glad I did. There is a free ebook novella that comes between books 1 and 2 called Winters Passage which can be found on the series site here. I read it and it captured my attention as The Iron King did and left at a point that made me want to jump straight in to this book. While I'd recommend reading Winters Passage before this, there isn't a need to. The important parts of it are covered briefly in the first chapter of this.

The Iron Daughter picks up shortly after the end of The Iron King. Meghan is now in the Winter Court, and not exactly happy. Queen Mab doesn't believe her tales of the Iron realm or destroying the Iron King, and she holds Meghan responsible for leading her youngest son, Prince Ash, astray with the tales. Adding to her frustration and pain, Ash himself is mostly absent. And when he does decide to appear, he makes it seem as though he doesn't and never has cared for her. She begins to wonder if he ever cared for her at all. If it was just the Ice Prince playing games with the mortal girl for entertainment. She's determined to hide her emotions as best she can from everyone else though. Emotions are weakness in the Winter Court and Meghan is getting a crash course in survival.

But it soon becomes clear that Ash should be the least of her worries. There is a traitor in the Winter court, someone who is working with the Iron fey and could potentially destroy them all. Meghan has an idea of who it could be, but knows that no one will believe her. Was is coming between the Summer and Winter courts, with the Iron fey just waiting to destroy whoever is left standing. Meghan may be the only one able, and willing, to try and stop it.

It didn't take long for me to get well and truly hooked in this book and I found it really hard to put down. I really felt for Meghan as she found herself alone in the Winter court and facing so many new challenges. I loved the continued detail of the world. It's beautifully done, making it easy to imagine the world Meghan is in, the characters around her, but it never drags the story down with an overload of description.

Character wise, I found it Meghan far easier to get on with this time around and liked her a whole lot more. She does a lot of growing up in this book. As the blurb says 'she grows a backbone of iron'. She's faced with some hard truths, about life in Faery, the creatures there and in the mortal world, the way the Iron fey are continuing to spread leaving destruction in their path. And in her personal life as well she faces hard choices. Meghan learns to make the hard decisions, to do the right thing even when it seems impossible and she'd rather focus on other things. I found myself feeling oddly proud of her for a couple of those decisions and it made me think a whole lot more of her. Grim, the sarcastic but brilliant cat also makes another appearance and if possible, I love him more this time around. Still mysterious and hiding a lot, he's very entertaining and I always just want more of him.

Perhaps the thing that surprised me most character wise, is how much more I came to love both Ash and Puck in this book. I liked both men okay in The Iron King, but I didn't really love either of them. Was 'Team Ash' even so, but I wasn't too drawn in to the romance side of the book. Here, the romance does play a bigger role and the hints of a love triangle from book one become far more pronounced. But even without that, I came to really, really love both Ash and Puck. I felt we got the chance to get to know them a lot better in this book, and they (Ash in particular) have to make some hard choices and do some growing as well. And I completely adore Ash now, which I didn't think would happen.

Despite the increased romantic plot, there is still plenty more going on. The concept of the iron fey continues to intrigue me, and I still find the majority of them very creepy. Always a good thing for a bad guy. It's a fairly fast paced book. Lots of twists and turns, some are a little predictable but most not. Some serious issues to contend with and a very creepy, spooky atmosphere adds to the overall tone of the book. I had a lot of trouble putting it down and was riding the ups and downs with Meghan as if I was there with her. The ending was intense and I totally didn't see things turning out as they did! There were a couple bits which I felt could have been touched on more. A few comments here and there that were clearly ignored to be dealt with in the next book. With as much going on as there is, I understood the why, but I felt they were a little too obvious for Meghan to not pick up on. Still, it was a very satisfying read and left me wanting more. I may not have loved book one, but this I sure did!! Very excited for the next Iron Fey book, 'The Iron Queen' in Feb 2011. 9/10

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