Young Adult romance is not my usual cup of tea. So why did I choose this book when I have many others to choose from in my stack of books? I was surprised to see it on the list of RITA winners under Young Adult "Romance," and the fantasy aspects of the book appealed to me. Besides, The Iron King was a gift from Nath during her 2011 RWA visit to NYC and it has been lingering in my TBR pile too long.
Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…The Iron King is a young adult fantasy with romance elements. The characters are based on Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the setting is the Nevernever or Faeryland. Meghan Chase's whole life changes on her sixteenth birthday when her brother Ethan is kidnapped and a changeling takes his place. Her life-long friend Robbie (or Robin Goodfellow/Puck) gives her a potion to help her see through glamour and escorts her to the Nevernever to search for Ethan where the real adventure begins.
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.
2011 RITA Winner for Young Adult Romance
There, Meghan discovers that she is King Oberon's half-breed daughter and that as his only child she can easily become a pawn in an ongoing war between her father's Summer Court and Queen Mab's Winter Court. But Meghan doesn't care and will do anything to take her brother home. When she discovers Ethan has been taken by an unknown evil in Faeryland, Meghan strikes dangerous bargains with anyone willing to help, including self-serving Grimalkin, a Cait Sith (or fey cat), a haggish Oracle, and Queen Mab's youngest son, the gorgeous but icy Winter Prince, Ash.
The Iron King has the ingredients to make a young adult fantasy a success: adventurous young characters with a rebellious streak, a beautiful magical setting filled with danger, tough challenges to overcome, friendships, loyalty, angst, and love. But besides all that, what really makes this fantasy stand out is Kagawa's successful incorporation of contemporary technology to the plot as part of the magical elements.
This is a young adult book, so if you look at the romance from a young adult's perspective, I'm sure that Meghan's crush on the beautiful, dark haired Winter Prince and his admiration for her also makes this aspect of the book a success. There is a beautiful scene at a ball where they dance and a mutual attraction is evident. Later, throughout their dangerous journey the attraction grows and Meghan and Ash forge a forbidden bond. However, there is no happy ever after in The Iron King (this is a series), and that being the case, I have to question whether this particular book qualifies as a romance.
Favorite Character: Grimalkin
This self-serving cat has enough personality to make up for Ash's constant gloom and grumpiness, Puck's overprotective streak, and Meghan's rashness. The cat's characterization is memorable and reminds me of those old fairy tale creatures that take unaware heroes through the wrong path just to teach them a lesson or two.
I enjoyed The Iron King. It's a light fantasy, solid and appropriate for young adults with the beginning of what promises to be an adorable young adult romance. I am saving the book for my nieces and will probably purchase the whole series for them. I know they will love it!
Category: Young Adult Fantasy/Romance
Series: Iron Fey
Publisher/Release Date: Harlequin Teen/February 1, 2010
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