I picked up The Iron King in a tiny bookstore in Alamosa, Colorado, and read it on vacation. I loved it. It was a great entry in the YA market. Kagawa takes the paranormal romance genre and brings it back to its roots — urban fantasy. The Iron King had a Charles de Lint feel that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Meghan Chase is half-human, half-fey. On her 16th birthday, she is plunged into the world of faerie when her little brother is replaced by a changeling and she goes to rescue him. Kagawa takes the conventional faerie mythos of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts and uses them to good effect, and then adds a new fae, the Iron Faerie, which come into being because of our high-tech, industrial world. (The Iron King wears a bluetooth ear thingy, a neat touch that Kagawa inserts with a deft hand.)
Since the Iron King is published by Harlequin Teen, the romance and sexual attraction is front and center, but Kagawa keeps things grounded. Meghan makes a fool of herself in front of a mortal boy she likes, in a cute scene that brought a smile as I read. Kagawa also touches on “sexting,” in which teens send pictures of each other and themselves in compromising positions.
I would have liked to see more friendships between girls in the book. We’re discussing this very topic on a writer’s listserve I’m on, that female heroes stand alone without any female friends, unlike in real life, in which girls and women are surrounded by friends as a matter of course. But I’m one to talk, as my characters Lynn and Kate are surrounded by men during the course of the books and don’t even have staunch friendships as part of their backstory.
However, that’s a minor quibble.
The Iron King. Go read it. Excellent YA, and excellent in general. I’m looking forward to picking up the next installment.
Addendum: I forgot to mention that this is not a defanged Faerie land by any means. There are real dangers, and not the least of which is that promises and bargains can come back to bite you, and they do. Kagawa does not protect her heroine from making a very bad bargain, and the results are poignant and will resonate throughout the series.
So again, excellent story, excellent job.