Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review: The Iron Daughter

Title: The Iron Daughter (The Iron Fey, bk. 2)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: July 27, 2010
Other Titles in Series: The Iron King (bk. 1), The Iron Queen (bk. 3)
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.

There’s a reason I only managed to finish The Iron Daughter almost a year after its release, despite having bought the book as soon as it appeared, pretty and purple and new, on the shelves of my local Indigo. I loved the first book for so many reasons: the pacing was perfect; the characters were lovable and distinct; even the setting was described with the perfect amount of scintillating detail.

So I began The Iron Daughter with little doubt that this would be a fun, engrossing book. And then, not a quarter into it, I found myself gritting my teeth at the main character’s inability to do anything but cry and think about throwing up in response to her circumstances and romantic woes. Really, Meghan? This was especially disappointing since I thought she was determined and brave in The Iron King, if at times insecure.

Nevertheless, I finally picked The Iron Daughter back up a few days ago. And it was great! The first few chapters are slow-going and a bit melodramatic, but once the book settles into the familiar pattern that made The Iron King so readable – non-stop adventuring blended with witty dialogue – it is everything I’d hoped it would be.

Julie Kagawa’s writing, characters, and ability to convey setting are all excellent. I had some issues with Meghan at first, but by the end of The Iron Daughter she’s assertive enough to once again be likable. (I do wish she would cry less though.) Every other character is portrayed with distinct speech patterns and little idiosyncrasies that make them seem so real. Their interactions are alternately hilarious and deep/dramatic, and they really stand out as memorable in a genre overflowing with angsty, gorgeous male love interests and over-the-top villains.

The Iron Daughter does suffer a bit from Second Book Syndrome. As the middle of a trilogy (the third book of which has already been released), the plot is limited in how much it can develop. However, Kagawa packs in enough fun new characters and creatures to keep this sequel feeling fresh. There's also plenty of romantic drama amid the adventuring, although much of it is in the form of pining and meaningful looks. And, of course, the Alice in Wonderland-esque faery world continues to be captivating and imaginative.

Though not quite as wow-worthy as the first book in the Iron fey series, The Iron Daughter features a similarly lovable combination of romance, magic, and funny characters.

Rating: 4/5

Cover Thoughts: Pretty and shiny. I like the icy colour scheme and all the curly vines.

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