E-Galley provided by Harlequin through NetGalley.com
Read July 21 & 22, 2010
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, iron-bound 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 alone 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.
Five months after she leaves he home and family to fulfill a bargain she struck to get the Prince Ash’s help to save her brother in The Iron King, Meghan Chase finds herself alone and ignored by everyone at the winter court except for a Phouka. She can’t leave and she seems the pawn of every major player there. When war threatens due to the loss of an ancient and powerful artifact, she and Ash have to go after it.
There is nothing like the kind of struggle this young woman faces to make you grow up fast, and we get to see Meghan improve her ability to make decisions. Her honesty earns respect from non-tradition fey; but the majority of fey are just too self-absorbed. And, the morality of fey is such that culture shock would be a mild term for how we would feel if plunked down in the midst of the Nevernever. Add royalty to the mix and the Summer King and Winter King, thousands of years old and immortal seem less mature than Prince Ash and Meghan. The story and the action allow Kagawa to fully develop the major players' characters.
There is a lot of action in this book. Meghan, Ash and Robin Goodfellow rarely get any sleep and I don’t recall them eating much of anything. But, Meghan has learned how to keep her head, how to make a decision under pressure and how to get her companions to do what she decides. She saves as often as she is saved. She has also learned to accept help, but not to strike a bargain with the fey to get it. The book is pretty bloody, enough that if it were a film graphically portraying the written events I would not see it.
There is more in the way of sensuality in the book as well. I know kids are sophisticated but this book is resting on the Young Adult precipice just about ready to fall into Adult. I don’t mean it’s erotica – no, no, no, but I would say parents think of the maturity level of your teen and whether some heavy duty kissing on a bed which might progress elsewhere is something they are ready for. It is at the very least PG-13.
There is an active Twilight-esque love triangle pretty in the book between the Prince, Meghan and her former guard, Robin Goodfellow. Meghan struggles to overcome an estrangement from the Prince in Robin’s willing arms, surprised and ashamed to find she also feels something for him.
One of my favorite characters in the book is a Caith Sith, or Cat Fey, named Grimalkin. Like cats Grimalkin is obsessed with cleaning his paws, and only shows up when needed - usually. Meghan learns this about him; he is loyal as needed. He also talks and his voice seems probably similar to Garfield and Chesire-like can disappear at will.
I like, and I think most adults will, Meghan’s loyalty to her friends and family, her willingness to do what the task requires, even when it is way out of her comfort zone. I don’t like her continued feelings for a boy who denies their relationship to protect her, because their natural enemies, because when they are broken up he sees her kissing Robin. She continues to pursue him until he sees the light and changes him! Each time they separate, he shows up again just as she is getting on her feet.
As I said, there is a lot of action here, some a bit same-old, same-old and some new and different. There is a subtle addition of Sci-fi into this fantasy book. Another great book to borrow from your son or daughter; it will give you something to talk about. But Kagawa is never heavy-handed in the morals at all; they come about naturally. This is good for older, more experienced teens and adults like me who enjoy epic, but modern adventures.
To learn more about Julie Kagawa go to http://www.juliekagawa.com.
Have you read either of these? What did you think?