The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
Harlequin Teen, 2010
Young Adult Fantasy
Julie Kagawa has done it again. Her second book in the Iron Fey series is another incredible page-turner.
Please do not read any further if you have not yet read The Iron King. These books are best read in order, and there are a few spoilers in this review regarding the first book because book two picks up almost immediately after book one ended. We skip Meghan and Prince Ash's journey back to Tir Na Nog, the realm of Ash's mother Queen Mab, although it is briefly mentioned in the beginning as a memory. If you're curious about the details of that journey, check out the ebook novella, Winter's Passage. But you don't have to read that to understand what happens in The Iron Daughter.
The story begins in the land of endless winter, with Meghan being held hostage by Queen Mab. Prince Ash, the guy she thought she loved and was in love with her after their near-death experience together in the Iron realm of King Machina, is now acting no better than his older, icier brothers. As the half-human daughter of Oberon, the Summer King, Meghan is hated by everyone in the Winter Court, including Ash. Then everything gets turned upside down and inside out when the Scepter of the Seasons is stolen by the Iron Fey, and Meghan is blamed for, not only that, but also the murder of Prince Sage, Mab's oldest son.
Well, crap, that isn't good. Fortunately, Ash comes to her aid, explaining that he really shouldn't, but he'd only been acting like he hated her so they wouldn't both be banished or put to death. Summer and Winter aren't supposed to love each other. That's just the way things are.
Together, they escape, and then begin their quest to find the Scepter and return it to the Winter Court -- who is, of course, blaming the Summer Court for its disappearance and they've subsequently declared war. And who should show up then? Puck. Like, the best character ever.
I love Puck. And he totally gets screwed over in this book. Saying that doesn't really give anything away, either, because it's quite clear from the moment he enters the story.
While the trio again journeys through lands of the strange, both in the Nevernever and in the human world (and even somewhere between), and they face opponents both familiar and new, a clear love triangle emerges. Both Puck and Ash have strong feelings for Meghan... and this is where I kind of got annoyed. It was awkward at best. Puck and Meghan had already been good friends in book one, since Puck had been assigned by King Oberon to watch over her in the human world. But that's all I'd ever viewed him as -- just a friend -- and you get the same feeling from Meghan even after Puck declares his love for her (which comes out too abruptly, in my opinion, not enough substance to back it up), so the love triangle is almost entirely one-sided toward Ash.
And it should be. Ash and Meghan have a clear chemistry despite being totally wrong for each other, and even though Puck has risked his life for her on numerous occasions, there just isn't that same romantic tension between them. It totally fell flat, in my opinion, and then it made Meghan seem shallow that she would even consider anything romantic with Puck when Ash was so obviously the clear choice.
Still, this wasn't enough to keep me from absolutely LOVING the book (and I have a slight inkling that the motives behind Puck's actions were *zips lips*). Not only do we see the return of Puck, but we also see the wonderful Grimalkin and his answer for everything (I am a cat), the bellowing Ironhorse in a new role, and Virus of the Iron Fey becomes the main opponent as she strives for sole ownership of the Scepter of the Seasons.
The combat scenes in this book never disappoint, and neither does the intense emotional drama. Meghan also learns some new tricks that will no doubt become crucial in the next book. Which I can't wait to read. I seriously don't know how I'm going to make through the next few months. Book two ends on a huge cliffhanger... like at the end of Star Wars Episode V, when Han is encased in carbonite. *That* story is complete, but your worry for the characters is exponentially greater than when you started.
This is an excellent series by an outstanding new author. Julie Kagawa is definitely one to watch.