The Iron King (The Iron Fey, #1)

The Iron King (The Iron Fey, #1) - Julie Kagawa First of all, I can't quite believe this comes from the same author that wrote The Immortal Rules. Kagawa has certainly made progress in developing her talent. There's no question that she comes up with great ideas but The Iron King shows she wasn't always great at executing them.The first 50% of this book severely lacked finesse and, at times, was excruciatingly painful to read. Meghan's introduction to the fae world isn't seamless. Instead of the protagonist having that "seeing is believing" moment before we have a much needed explanation, we get it after, which, under the circumstances, wasn't the way to go. I found myself thinking, "Really, and you believe him why?" to Robbie's revelation about her brother's kidnap and switcheroo with a badly behaved changling doppleganger. To me, her brother's unusual reaction to his mother's accident wasn't enough evidence to start believing in the paranormal, and for following her, possibly delusional, best friend into the unknown to rescue the real, adorably innocent, 4-year-old Ethan. In Meghan's situation, I'd be trying to figure out a way to get Robbie to a mental hospital ASAP. Other than this, in general, Meghan's point of view wasn't compelling -it was often jarring, angsty or just plain dull, and I soon turned to skimming, mostly slowing just for dialogue, which soon turned to skipping pages altogether. I don't think I missed much, lending to the idea that this wasn't as concise as it could've been. After the halfway point the prose became a little more readable so I slowed down but didn't stop skimming completely.The Iron King has many influences ranging from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream to Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. I haven't read the former so I didn't get those references but I'm definitely familiar with the latter, and I really liked what she took from that work and made it her own.I enjoyed Kagawa's descriptions of the fey world. The use of seasons for the environments for each fae court: summer for the "good" Seelie court and winter for the "evil" Unseelies, was a nice touch. I also liked that human belief was the magical source of strength and immortality for the fae, and the effect of human technological progress where iron rules, deadly to fey, had created this third court where the corrosive iron is poisoning the fey world as it expands, soon to be encroaching on Summer and Winter territory. I've always been a fan of politics and manipulation in books and with the regular use of binding contracts by the fey, this element pleased me. Unfortunately, the characters within this world are pretty much throwaways, I cared so little for them.Our protagonist, Meghan isn't someone I rooted for. She's a non-character in my eyes. She's naive, loyal to her detriment, and has the potential to unnecessarily become a martyr making her ever so slightly irritating, but otherwise she lacks a personality. She not your typical fey, or half-fey. She's stubbornly human. Which reminds me, she's also a hormonal, horny teen salivating over Prince Ash's cold beauty. There'd be no tears if she accidentally "fell" off a cliff. She's had 3 fathers. One biological and 2 stepdads, one of which she believed to be her real father who disappeared out of thin air when she was very young. I wonder what happened to him. I'm guessing her biological daddy had a hand in it.]Robbie, Meghan's [b:Grover and sidekick is nice and supportive with hints of having a crush on her, no doubt developed from Bodyguard Syndrome -instead of just guarding her body for all those years he started admiring it. His transformation into Puck in the fae world, I didn't like. On the one hand, his comedic flair added levity but on the other, he came across as a bit of an ass. This might be down to his difficult relationship with Ash, and later, his jealousy of Meghan's interest in Ash. I had hope he'd die before he makes his crush known (because obviously he will), thereby creating the dreaded Love Triangle. His presence, in effect, ended up creating more conflict rather than offering familiar comfort for Meghan during her journey to reclaim her brother.Prince Ash, third son of Mab (the ruler of the Unseelie court) intrigued me to begin with. His verbal threat to kill Meghan while dancing with her had me sitting up and paying attention. His unwilling attraction to Meghan leads to a Romeo & Juliet angst-filled situation (I'm fed up of those in YA) although I'm not sure what exactly he's attracted to. Perhaps he senses an opportunity for an easy lay. Oops, I forgot. It's YA. There's none of that evil sex here, but there's nothing romantic about the pairing. They've been slapped together out of necessity, and if anything, physical lust is all that's between them.The relationship of any substance in this book was between Ash and Puck. Previously the best of friends until Puck made an unintended mistake resulting in a deadly accident Ash has been unable to forgive. Since that disastrous day he's promised to kill Puck, meeting him in a number of skirmishes in which it seems clear that Puck has always had the advantage but has no wish to harm Ash. I think they deeply love one another. If either of them ever kill the other, I believe there would be deep regret.The Cheshire Cat Grimalkin, the sarcastic talking cat, is easily the best character in the book. He's an independent outsider, content to observe the entertaining train wreck that is Meghan, Ash and Puck, as it unfolds, only offering help when it benefits him. However, he appears aware these are the only people able to save his homeland (and himself) from extinction so in emergencies he gives much needed aid freely without a price attached. He saved their lives many times. If Grimalkin had been narrating this book it would've been a far more delightful and humorous read.Ash's contract with Meghan, his help recovering her brother in exchange for her willingly going with him to the Unseelie court and his waiting mother's hands, was obviously going to create fodder for another book but I just so wish for more stand alones. I don't like "crack" series -series with books which aren't that great but which you become addicted due to tantalizing (or agonizing) hooks thrown out by authors (e.g. cliffhangers), and The Iron Fey has all the markings of such. I want to read the next book but I have serious doubts after also reading Winter's Passage. I imagine it would be a frustrating experience I have no desire to put myself through.1.5 stars.*Bought in the UK Kindle Spring Spectacular 2011.