review: the iron daughter by julie kagawa

Author: Julie Kagawa
Publication Date: 08/01/2010
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 359
Source: Purchased
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. (goodreads)
At the end of The Iron King Meghan had definitely saved her brother, Ethan, seemingly saved Nevernever, and returned to her home to reunite with her mom and stepdad. Happily ever after?

Fortunately for us it doesn't quite end that way. Right before Meghan can launch into a meaningful heart-to-heart with her mom, Ash quietly sweeps in and comes to bring Meghan to the Winter Court - a faery always fulfills their vow. The gap in between that story and The Iron Daughter is provided in the novella Winter's Passage*. We do get a bit of a summary at the beginning of the book, but there's more nitty gritty in the whole thing so it's worth the read if you have the chance.

While at the Winter Court we find out that Ash is the youngest and that of his two older brothers, one is slightly nuts and the other is potentially nice. During a party to celebrate the return of the Scepter of the Seasons from Summer to Winter, the scepter is stolen semi-secretly by the Iron Fey. Meghan gets caught up in a fight to protect it, with Ash eventually coming to her aid to spirit her back to the Summer Court before a war can break out over the theft, with Summer erroneously being blamed.

Many a time in The Iron Daughter does Ash display distancing behavior. The novella, and the beginning of this book, both allude to reasons behind it. He had warned Meghan that he would not be able to be trusted in Tir Na Nog (Mean Mama's Realm) but also that he would protect her as long, of course, as he wasn't directly commanded to kill her. As a reader it was a smidgen difficult for me to suspend disbelief  and that somehow Ash had given up on her and had become a heartless stranger, even though he did it so well. At times I wanted to yell at the book, "Hey, Meghan, your boyfriend's pretending to suck so his mean mama doesn't kill you any earlier." That said, I could empathize with her as regardless of logic, sometimes your heart wins out.

I have to say, though, that Meghan Chase is one strong female character, and I think that's a large part of why I really enjoy these books. She's not a simpering girl waiting for her prince to come, nor is she easily influenced. Even though she goes through a lot she never gives up. When Ash leaves her behind, she keeps on going for his - now hers, too - world. She speaks up to her father, Queen Mab, and above all she defends her family and loved ones something fierce. Meghan's grown a lot even from the previous book, and it's nice that there are some introspective moments where she too realizes it.

The fantastic world building continues here and one of the best things about it is that we always have Grimalkin to be the voice of narrative reason to supply the reader with deductions that the other characters would never have offered up. Okay, here's my favorite Grim quote:
"I am a cat."
So finite and blasé in a feline way that it's just perfect. If he could shrug lazily while saying it I think that he would. We also have the return of Puck! I didn't realize how much I had missed his jovial commentary until we were left with Meghan alone in the Winter Court. (Hey, she had a right to be depressed!) They really do balance each other out well personality wise. There's a lot that happens with him and some other characters that is quite surprising. There are some mysteries that are offered up, some predictable, most not. Can I say we also have the return of Ironhorse? And I really enjoyed him? Think on that, folks!

Overall there's a lot of everything exciting and good from the previous book: a great landscape, action, lovely character building, tons of Iron Fey, and, oh maybe some romance. Maybe a lot more romance. Puck or Ash? I won't tell.

It's difficult to follow up a fantastic initial book of a series, but it was done here.

*Winter's Passage is available as a free download until April 31st.

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