Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa

I know, I know. Some of you are probably thinking, faeries? Aren't they tiny, glittery creatures concocted for the imaginations of three-year old girls bedecked in tutus and crowns? Call me a kid, but I've been enchanted by Julie Kagawa's "The Iron Fey" series ever since I read the first book. I think a little piece of me died when I read the final book in the original series, only to be revived when "The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten" series was announced! "The Iron Traitor" is the second book in this sequel series, and was released just last month. And let me tell you, the fey in the books are not your typical frilly faeries.

"Normal" is not possible when it comes to the life of Ethan Chase. Being the younger brother of one of the most powerful fey in the Nevernever wasn't meant to be easy, and, after an unexpected journey to the land of fey, "normal" is out of the question. But when he learns that his nephew Kierran is missing and seeking any means possible to save the summer faery he loves, Ethan finds himself sucked back into magical mischief and fey politics. Now, however, the stakes are even higher. Not only does he have to protect his stubborn girlfriend Kenzie, but Ethan also has to stop Kierran before he does something unthinkable, something that will give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten, and fracture the human and faery worlds forever.

The characters in "The Iron Fey" series have always, without fail, made me fall in love with them. I remember becoming so invested in the adventures of Meghan, Ash and Puck that I devoured even the in-between novellas in the series--I just needed more! Luckily for me, they make reappearances in "The Iron Traitor", and it really is like meeting old friends after a long time. Puck is as mischievous as ever, and it was thrilling to see Ash show up again (though this may or may not be because I ended up having a creepy fictional crush on the guy). And, of course, you have Grimalkin, the Cheshire Cat-like character, ripe with sarcasm and wry "better than thou". I think I squealed a little when he showed up in the novel! The way Ms. Kagawa ties in the original and sequel series together is both generous and exciting, and builds on the world she'd created previously in ways that continue to astonish you at every turn.

The main characters of this series, however, are Ethan, Kenzie and Kierran. Being in the perspective of a male protagonist is always interesting to me, especially when it comes to YA novels. I love reading about Ethan's emotions and thoughts throughout the novel, especially as he comes to terms with his feelings for Kenzie and letting some of that 'tough guy shield' go as he exposes himself to more vulnerability. The ways in which Ethan's character develops as the story progresses allow for greater reader investment in the novel, not to mention establish a connection between the main character and the reader. I do have to say, however, that I don't quite feel as invested in his character as I did in the original series, though this may not have anything to do with his portrayal! Kenzie, though admittedly a little annoying at times, is still a strong, determined character who is a perfect match for Ethan, helping him crumbles the walls he'd erected for self-defense. The most intriguing character in "The Iron Traitor", however, is Kierran, since the entire novel centers around his actions as he tries to save Annwyl. I loved their tragic romance, and to see him change as he struggles to save the faery he loves was extremely interesting to read about.

As always, Ms. Kagawa does an incredible job in expanding the world of the novel. She takes us to New Orleans, full of mystic and voodoo and all that jazz (pun intended), creepy, abandoned houses, and, of course, Nevernever. It's always intriguing to enter the land of the fey, what with all the court politics, exotic and entrancing creatures, and wickedly beautiful landscapes. And what's all the more intriguing is that Ms. Kagawa evokes this entire, expansive world through words alone! The writing itself is never purple, nor is it simplistic, with just the right balance of descriptions and action to set the novel at a quick and engaging pace. The storyline never really dropped, and always remained exciting until that one heckuva cliffhanger!

Overall, "The Iron Traitor" is an incredibly delectable addition to "The Iron Fey" series, with a wonderful cast of characters you can't forget, a deceptively enchanting world, and an engaging, fast-paced plot. I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a good adventure--or to indulge in their childhood obsession with faeries!

Rating: 4/5

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