Monday, March 7, 2011

Iron King (Iron Fey Book 1) by Julie Kagawa

Okay- I admit it.  I TOTALLY came late to the Iron Fey Party.  Until this past fall, I didn't know that these books existed and BOY, was I missing out!  If you know me at all, you know that I have a fairy fetish.  They are everywhere in my house, around my house, on my blog profile, just everywhere.  I fell in love with Celtic Fairy Lore and Culture after my college roommate (Thank You, Brianne!) got me hooked on the Merry Gentry Series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Now, lots of people out there absolutely loathe these books- and that's cool, to each his own- but you can't fault Laurell's research.  I own a number of the books that she used to create her fey world and I love every one of them. The Celts are responsible for the fairy beliefs all over the world.  Fairies, sprites, pixies, morrigans, doxies, will o wisps, the sidhe, goblins, the Wild Hunt, fairy mounds, brownies, boggarts and kelpies.  So many creatures and stories come from the Celts and their belief that the fey captured the British Isles from it's original inhabitants, the Fir Bolgs, and that the fey have since lived on the isles.  They believe that in the past, and sometimes even today, the fair folk will come out of their fairy mounds and into our world to aid or wreak havoc upon the mortals they find.  This world of the fey, or the sidhe, is what helped inspire Shakespeare when he wrote A Midsummer Night's Dream.  The story of the fey in MND sounds much like all the epic tales of the fair folk- such as the classic tale of Cuchulain.  Julie Kagawa further marries the Shakespearean tale with the legends of the fair folk- and then she makes it her own.

I absolutely loved this book.  I really did.  Although I do have to call out Kendra from Books Complete Me- she thought I'd be Team Puck and I have to say that she was wrong.  I love Puck, I do, but Ash.  *Sigh*  Where was I?  Oh yes, Iron King.  Basically, Meghan Chase is the daughter of the fairy king.  Her mother took her and ran after her human father disappeared.  She has since been living on a pig farm with her mother, step-father and half brother.  Meghan's best friend, Robbie, lives nearby and attends school with her.  When he starts to act strangely overprotective and even stranger things start happening around Meghan, the life that she thought she knew starts to unravel.  When her brother is taken into the Nevernever, or the fairy world, Meghan has to go after him.  "Robbie" goes with her and they begin the journey that will change Meghan's life forever. 

I found this book to be fun, exciting and interesting.  The writing was vivid and expressive, so much so that you really could visualize yourself there in the Nevernever.  So much of the world that Julie is writing is "real," meaning that the creatures or characters come from the traditions of the Celts.  My favorite example is the Kelpie that Meghan has a run in with in the Nevernever while she and "Robbie"/Puck race for the Summer Court.  Kelpies are believed to be the basis of the Loch Ness Monster legend.  Kelpies are fey that can look like beautiful women or gorgeous horses but that guise is only used to help them lure men to the water's edge.  Once the man is at the water's edge, the kelpie bites down on the man's arm and drags him into the water to drown.  Some believe the kelpie does it for fun, others believe that kelpies eat their prey.  Either way, it's a pretty wicked fey creature.  I love the character of Grimalkin.  He reminds me of the old fairy legend about the woman who messed around with another woman's husband and got pregnant, the man's wife said that the hussy's outside should match her inside and turned her into a cat.  The woman as a cat gave birth to a kitten who would be a boy.  But the fairy boy always wore the signs of his mother's shame because even as a human shaped sidhe warrior, he was calico colored.  Fairy cats.  Very cool. 

Overall, I would say that this book comes highly recommended.  As in go buy it now, if you don't already own it!  The Iron Fey books are suitable for all teens.  The books contain little to no graphic sexuality and in general, they are light hearted and fun- even in grim circumstances.  So give them a try!

Iron King receives 5 Fairies for a wonderful modern fairy tale with plenty of Puck.

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