The Iron Daughter
The Iron Daughter is the second book in The Iron Fey series and as such this review contains spoilers for book one, The Iron King (you can read my non-spoilery review of that title here). You have been warned - proceed at your own peril.
I really enjoyed the first book in the Iron Fey series – I thought it was original, fun and pretty sinister in places – however, I never quite got round to ordering book two. This all changed when I received book three (The Iron Queen) to review via NetGalley. I'm glad that I've been prompted to get back into this series because, while I may not have enjoyed this second installment quite as much as the first, it is still a great world to explore.
At the end of book one, we saw our intrepid protagonist Meghan vanquish king of the iron fey, Machina, save her baby brother and prepare to fulfill her contractual obligation to Prince Ash to hand herself in to his Unseelie court. A month or two has passed by the start of The Iron Daughter and we find her twiddling her thumbs in the icy confines of Queen Mab's palace wondering why Ash (her possible lurve) has forsaken her and whether Puck (her other possible lurve) is still stuck inside a tree.
Meghan continues to be a likable enough character. She's pretty plucky (such a good word, dontcha think?), pretty focused and awfully good at saying what she thinks. However, she is also sometimes a bit stupid and slow to catch onto things – particularly where Ash and Puck are concerned... She has a tenancy to take particularly Ash at face value when it is clear that those particular icy waters run deep. Luckily, she still has the fabulous Grimalkin around to point out to her when she's being utterly idiotic. While I wouldn't say she exhibited a lot of character growth over the course of the story there is certainly a sense at the end that she is maturing, taking on more responsibility and forming less ridiculous conclusions. She's also getting better and beating the fey at their own riddly games.
While Grimalkin remains a strong contender for favourite character of the series so far, I have to say that my heart was almost won by Leanansidhe who is just...well.. fabulous, darling! She wafts around trailing multi-hued cigarette smoke and generally just being divine in a kind yet cruel sort of a way. There was also another character who absolutely stole very scene he was in, but he was such a surprise addition to Meghan's band of merry men that I don't want to spoil the reveal. You, er, CAN'T REALLY MISS HIM, though. As for Ash and Puck well, they remain as they were – Ash is dreadfully broody, Puck is dreadfully chirpy and to be honest I don't know why Meghan bothers with either of them. Actually, that's not quite true – Puck may be slightly irritating, but he's also very sweet while Ash might well be sweet but only when he finally gets over himself. All that angst. Meh. He redeems himself towards the end, though, so I'm holding out hope for book three. The love triangle isn't terribly original - in fact, I defy you not to admit it reminds you of another well known love triangle, albeit a more sparkly, moany one. This doesn't detract from the story, though, and the characters are interesting enough not to suffer from it.
The plot itself is pretty good. While Machina may be gone, there are still the rest of the Iron Fey to deal with and there seems to be a sinister new ruler lurking in their tangled depths. Most importantly, the Iron Court have managed to steal the Septre of The Seasons (what seemed to be a rather important bit of, um, stick) and this leads to the Seelie and Unseelie courts pitting themselves against each other in all out war. Mab and Oberon are like the worst types of politicians, never believing anything that they haven't made up themselves. Add to this mix Ash's dastardly brother, Rowan, Meghan's odd affinity with the Iron Fey and the love triangle that continues to...triangulate, and you've got plenty to contend with.
I really enjoy Julie Kagawa's writing and, as with The Iron King, her descriptions of the Nevernever, The Between and the realm of the Iron Fey are beautifully creative, capturing simultaneously both magic and menace. Again, the Iron Fey are what set this series apart from other Faery tales – they are a truly original, not to mention exceptionally clever conceit and the way in which Kagawa continues to exploit modern technological terms in their descriptions and actions is a pleasure to read. The book ends on an exciting, if predictable, cliffhanger with Meghan at a crossroads and Tir Na Nog in disarray. I'm not sure what's going to happen next but I can say that I will be starting The Iron Queen straight away to find out – if this series can maintain it's atmosphere of fun, fear and originality then it will definitely be one to add to your bookshelves.