The Iron King is an unoriginal mashup of existing stories that is readable if not groundbreaking [Review]

The Iron King is an unoriginal mashup of existing stories that is readable if not groundbreaking [Review]


The Iron King
By Julie Kagawa
Published by Mira Ink
ISBN 978 0 7783 0434 0

Now that apocalyptic landscapes have been exhausted by The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner and the like, young-adult fiction writers have invaded fairyland. But this is not the fairyland of Disney and cute cartoons; this is the land of fey or faerie, where the winged ones are not always pleasant, and where powerful forces of good and evil are battling it out.

Add a little human romance, and you have a winning genre of teen fiction – but only for those already interested. Julie Kagawa’s The Iron King has many merits, but is unlikely to convert new readers to the thrills of what happens when humans and faeries meet.

The novel starts with gripping opening scenes, but then becomes a bit ordinary after the fey appear. The tight thriller scenario of the first few chapters breaks apart when the supernatural elements kick in.

It all begins — as so often — with a teenage girl and one or two family problems. When she was six years old, all-American girl Meghan Chase’s father disappeared, leaving no trace. Police found his shoes on the banks of a lake, but they never found an actual body.

Meghan, now 16, lives with her mum, step-dad and younger brother in a small town in the state of Louisiana. Her life is boring, but recently certain things have made her feel uneasy. Ethan, her four-year-old brother, is suddenly very clingy and gets upset if he is not with her.

Sometimes Meghan feels like someone is watching her; she notices a dark stranger following her and then suddenly vanishing when no one else is around. And her best friend, Robbie, is inexplicably becoming very protective. Something is changing in Meghan’s life, and she doesn’t know what.

Meghan comes home one day to find her mother unconscious and her brother snarling and drooling like an animal. She’s confused, but Robbie knows what is happening – and he knows what Meghan is: half-fey, the daughter of Oberon, King of the Seelie Court.

Robbie himself is really Robin Goodfellow, a powerful fey in his own right. Events in the Kingdom of the Faeries are building up to bring Meghan over to the other side into her rightful place.

The Iron King has everything that fans of the genre will expect, and it is definitely one of the better-written novels of its type. But the rest of us might not find enough of interest or surprise to be convinced that we have come across something new and original.

John Millen can be contacted on

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Gritty fairy-tale offers excitement, but not a lot of originality


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