Desert Isle Keeper
The Iron King
I don’t read a lot of young adult fiction, but when I discovered this received a nomination for best first book of 2010 in the Rita nominations, I decided to take a chance on it. I’m glad I did because I loved this first entry in the author’s Iron Fae series, and am eager to read the rest.
Meghan Chase’s life changed forever when she was six and during a fun day in the park, her father disappears. Her mother and Meghan move to the swamps of Louisiana, and she eventually marries a pig farmer. While Meghan’s stepfather seems nice, he never seems to remember that Meghan exists. With her mother’s attention focused on her little half-brother Ethan, Meghan feels isolated and ignored. Things are worse at school, where she’s mocked by her fellow students for her hand-me-down clothes and rural home. If not for her best friend Robbie Goodfell, Meghan would be completely alone.
On the eve of her 16th birthday, things get strange. Ethan begs Meghan to take him with her to school, afraid of what’s going to happen in their home. Meghan has looked under Ethan’s bed and in his closet before for imaginary monsters, and does so again. Although she finds nothing, there’s a strange sense that things just aren’t right.
A series of horrible incidents at school and home culminate with Ethan seemingly turned into a monster. Instead, Robbie tells Meghan that nothing is as it seems. Her brother has been taken by the fae, and replaced with an evil changeling. The only hope for her brother is for Meghan to go with Robbie into the Nevernever and rescue her brother.
Once in the land of the fae, Meghan encounters a host of beings. In addition to all types of faeries, there are talking cats, demons, satyrs, and pixies. I liked the inclusion of the fae from Midsummer’s Night Dream, including Oberon, Puck, and Titania. A lot of Meghan’s childhood makes more sense once she meets Oberon.
The world of the fae and its inhabitants are vividly described. I particularly liked Grimalkin, the talking cat who leads Meghan on part of her quest. I also found the relationship between the fae and technology intriguing. The action is pretty much non-stop once Meghan begins her quest, and her life is in danger repeatedly.
I initially thought that Meghan was destined for Puck, but she has clear, strong feelings for the mysterious Prince Ash, the youngest son of Queen Mab of the Winter Court. But if you’re looking for a strong romance, this isn’t the book for you. The focus of the book is clearly on Meghan, and the development of the fae world. I found her to be a believable 16-year old. She’s not perfect, gets homesick, is afraid, and doesn’t instantly morph into a superhero.
I listened to this in audio, and loved narrator Khristine Hvam. She clearly distinguishes between characters and puts a lot of emotion into her reading when called for. In fact, I enjoyed her narration, as well as the book so much, that I’ve already downloaded the second in the series.
If you need your books to have a clear ending, and if you want a strong romance, this is not for you. However, while aimed at young adults, I think this has a lot to offer older readers who enjoy a good fantasy.