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The Iron King reminds me of the babe

January 12, 2012

And now, those of you who have seen Labyrinth have the song stuck in your head. For the rest of you:

The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)
Julie Kagawa
Harlequin Teen
368 pages

Meghan Chase thinks she has an ordinary, even boring life. Living in a small town with her mother, stepfather and stepbrother Ethan, her only friend is a boy named Robbie, who has an annoying habit of calling her Princess. And then she starts to see things that don’t entirely make sense.
When her brother disappears, whisked off to Faeryland, she has no choice but to go find him. She knows it’s going to be dangerous. And Robbie won’t let her go alone. Because he’s spent some time in faery himself.

There are plenty of similarities between this narrative and Labyrinth, because it draws on the tradition of journeying to faeryland, of changelings, and of the uneasy truce between our world and Faery. Fewer songs, of course.

Kagawa’s take on faery myth and identity blends the traditional lore with some excellent innovations. I’m always going to like a blend of modern settings and folklore, pretty much. And I especially like it here, in the way Kagawa sets the traditional idea of cold iron against the technological advances of the industrial age. Traditionally, cold iron is poison to faeries and saps their magic. Kagawa takes it a step further, with a few touches that verge on steampunk. Because she creates emotionally grounded characters, even the mythical ones, it’s easy to be invested in the fate of faeryland, and in the danger faced by those who want to protect Meghan as she searches for her brother.

I also like the added weight placed on bargains and promises. In traditional tales, they matter. The way Meghan experiences that in practice is artfully done.
I gather this is the start of a series. I’m eager to read the next.

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