Fairy Tales, Young Adult

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows…

The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa

The Skinny: Meghan Chase is half faery, something she discovers when her younger half-brother is taken, her best friend Robby turns out to be Robin Goodfellow (from the Shakespeare play), and her true father turns out to be Oberon, King of the Summer Fae (and also from the play). Meghan is forced to enter the faery world, which is being ravaged by the mysterious Iron Fey, and, with the help of Puck (or Robby) and the youngest prince of the Winter Fey, Ash, she must decide her fate and help to save her new found home from destruction.

I think that about sums this series up.

BFF?: Okay, the BFF section is going to be split tri-fold, since there really are 3 main characters.

Meghan, to me, was a roller coaster of liking. At first I really didn’t like her; she was rough around the edges, not my type of BFF. But then I genuinely felt for her, but I also rolled my eyes at her. Then enter the sudden drop of the coaster when she shocked the crap out of me. She became kind of bad ass. Meghan still had her moments of whineyness, as do all teenagers, but I really began to like her and watch her development. She was still rough, she still wasn’t my type of BFF, but she was interesting to read.

Which brings us to Puck. I had a hard time with him to be honest. I thought he was an excellent friend for Meghan, balancing her whateverness that irked me with his loyalty and mischievousness. But then he had to go and have this huge crush on Meghan which just annoyed me.

But then there was Ash, the greatest roller coaster of the bunch. I think I managed to hate him and love him in every book. Don’t get me wrong, he was dead sexy at some points, but he was just so bland and serious. When I got to Iron Knight, which is told from his point of view, I just couldn’t get behind him and cheer him on. Which I really hate… because did I mention he’s dead sexy?

Readability: Since the Iron Fey series is written in 1st person, it’s pretty easy to get into and read. What got increasingly difficult was all the world building and descriptions. I guess if you’re familiar with all the faery creatures it might not be as bad, but as I’m not I really had a hard time visualizing the world and often found myself scan-reading.

Crush Level: 7
As I mentioned before, I really had difficulties with Ash. Luckily for him, sullen, serious, overprotective men are my cup of tea. Because that’s exactly what he was. With each book my “desire” (can you desire a character? please tell me you know what I mean by this) for him grew, even when I really hated him. But, like with every good sullen, serious, and overprotective literary male character, they love very deeply. Which I think is what drew me to Ash – it wasn’t just teen puppy love or a “you’re so pretty” kind of love… it was deep. And perfect. And why couldn’t he have fallen for me?

Bonus Points: Books Copied: I don’t know if anyone else picked up on this, but there were so many scenes in this series that were either “copied” or “borrowed” from other books or shows that it made me feel completely nerdy and say “OMG that’s from ____”

Meghan and Ash visit a market that sells items that are downright strange - including glass flowers. This made me think of the market in Stardust.

While in a graveyard, Ash warns Meghan that they have to fear the Grim - clearly, I immediately thought of Harry Potter. Although I don't think this is exclusive to HP.
Ash wants to get a soul so he can be with the woman he loves and has to go through terrible trials in order to gain a soul. Does this remind anyone else of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Just sayin...
Puck and Ash had to fight the baddies to get keys to unlock the chamber door during Ash's quest to get a soul. Yeah, anyone else know of something where a pointed-eared guy has to get keys to unlock a door?

Snarky Cat

Maybe it’s just me, but whenever Grimalkin came into the scene I IMMEDIATELY thought of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. He always made me happy.

Commencement Speech: I was a bit hesitant to get into this series, mostly because my impression of fairies is Tinkerbell. Clearly, I couldn’t be farther from the truth. I loved the fact that Kagawa took the characters from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and used them as the basis for her series, adding her own unique twists to it. I had forgotten this side of faerie lore – the kind that is sneaking and conniving, beautifully dangerous. While I was a little put off by Meghan at first, she grew on me and I really became wrapped up in her story. There was heartbreak and suspense, action of the best kind, romance that made your toes curl… all the good things I like in my series.

Yearbook Quotes: “My, aren’t we bossy today. Give a girl an army and it goes straight to her head.”

“One more thing,” Ash said in his dangerous, soft voice as we turned away. “If you do not return with her,” Ash continued, staring him down, “if she comes to any harm while she is with you, I will turn this entire camp into a bloodbath. That is my promise, lieutenant.”

“No! Bad Wraith! No touchie!”

“And why do you always pop up when you’re not wanted? You got your payment. Why are you still following me?”
“You are amusing,” purred Grimalkin.”

“…his long life gave him a vast knowledge of lengthy, complicated words he staggered me with in Scrabble. Though sometimes we’d end up debating whether or not faery terms like Gwragedd Annwn and hobyahs were legal to use.”

Superlatives – Most Likely to NOT be a good substitute for reading your Shakespeare

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9 thoughts on “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows…”

  1. I have to confess that I loved the Iron Fey series. I like fairy books but sometimes have a hard time finding ones I really like, and I REALLY liked these. I thought the characters were all great, although I agree with you that sometimes Ash wasn’t the most gripping, exciting narrator. Some parts of The Iron Knight were-gasp!–a little sluggish to me. But I’m glad that you read them and seemed to like them! I missed those comparisons you saw but that’s probably only because I haven’t read or seen those things you noticed, except Harry Potter, obviously. Great review, though! Honest and thoughtful 🙂

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    1. I actually really loved this series – although my review isn’t as yay! as they normally are. It took me a little while to get into them, but once I was in I got hooked. So much so that I messed up my copy of the Iron Queen ebook I had checked out from the library that I had to buy it because I couldn’t wait 2 more days to re-check it out!

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  2. It is interesting that she pulled some characters from Shakespeare. I really like books where the author is clearly a lover of literature. I mean, I know all writers read, but I like the ones who create characters or stories that actually show it! I’m not sure I’m ready for a fairy story, though…

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    1. I really thought it was interesting. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays so it was neat seeing these characters in different settings. I was a little hesitant to read a book about the fae, but it was actually really interesting. More fantasy really than faeries.

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  3. Grrr… I do not like these books. Granted, I’ve only read the first one and that little e-book that came in between #1 and #2. But maybe I need to reconsider? I also didn’t really care for Tyger, Tyger, so something I think I just don’t like fairy books…

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  4. I really hate fairy (faerie?) books, but I’ve heard from many people, even those who claim to be fairy haters, that this series is good. And who am I kidding? I love characters described as “dead sexy.” Also, desire for book characters is a totally real thing in my world. I SO get you there.

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  5. You got through this series quickly! I still haven’t read The Iron Knight. What’s wrong with me? Love your series review, and it’s interesting the points you bring up about the characters, and the Midsummer Night’s Dream comparisons. I’m not a fan of books about the fae generally but there was something I loved about this series. And Ash was a stand out character for me.
    Excellent thought-provoking series review, Candice.

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