Book Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Fairies

Publishing Info: February 1st 2010 by Harlequin Teen

Pages: 363

Star Rating: 3.5/5


Back Cover Summary:

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth – that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil, no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.


The Iron King is the first book in Julie Kagawa’s urban fantasy series which brings fairies into the modern age. The main reason I picked up this book was the recommendations of my friends. The paranormal genre is one I’ve begun to stay away from after many disappointing reads, however, I thought I would give this a go as dark fairies sounded different to vampires and werewolves and the like.

My first impression was a negative one. The writing style doesn’t really do anything for me. Sometimes the wording doesn’t always flow and Meghan’s voice in the narrative feels quite immature at times. It took me a while to ‘get into’ the story, it was at least halfway through before I started to enjoy it and want to keep reading.

In terms of characters I found most of them to be quite weak. Meghan always seems to have to be rescued by others, frequently playing the ‘damsel in distress’ role and very rarely being able to use her brain. It takes until the last few chapters of the book before she is able to act on her own and fight for herself. The redeeming part of her characterisation is her determination to get her brother back no matter the consequences. Puck is a good character, always having a good line to add some humour. I didn’t connect with Ash much, though he grew on me as the book went on. Kagawa did a good job of presenting him as cold and unemotional. Grimalkin steals the show for me for most of the book, despite not being one of the three main characters. Grim’s characterisation is best of all the characters.

The changeling plot isn’t all that original and as the world of the fey is very much based on actual myths and legends there isn’t much room for Kagawa’s own world building (apart from a particular part of the world which is entirely her own creation but no spoilers). It didn’t take too long to establish the plot which I thought was good, Kagawa gets to the point quite quickly but once the ‘saving the brother’ storyline is established it takes ages for anything much to happen. I like the element of adventure the book has as a lot of similar YA books focus on romance and nothing much happens in them. Thankfully, the romance doesn’t dominate the story which is one of its saving points.

Overall, this book is much better than many paranormal YA novels and for once the romance is a side plot that hardly crops up rather than being the focus of the plot. I liked that there was adventure and some events were unexpected (though I wouldn’t say it was full of twists and turns, more of a sprinkling). The minor characters (especially Grimalkin) steal the show with Meghan being a very mediocre and at times annoying main character. I’ll be reading the next one at least because I bought the books together since they were on offer. I’ve heard they get better as they go along so hopefully I will enjoy the next one more.

Now I have to take a moment to compare this to Poison by Chris Wooding. This book is about a female main character called Poison who has to rescue her sister who has been swapped for a fairy changeling. These books have the same premise but Chris Wooding pulls it off a million times better. Poison is dark, adventurous, compelling, exciting, and void of irritating, whiny main characters. If you want to read a YA book about fairies pick this up. It is leagues superior to The Iron King.

Book Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Genre: Young Adult, Science-Fiction, Dystopia/Utopia

Publishing Info: Wattpad serialisation September 2014 (originally published October 16, 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Pages: 400

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

Incapable. Awkward. Artless. That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail. Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her dad’s jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because tonight, they’ll come for her.

Crewel is the first book in Gennifer Albin’s gripping young adult series.



I read this book for free when it was posted as a serialisation on the writing website Wattpad, but I would have gladly bought it. The world Albin has created blew me away. This book stands out from many of the other dystopia/utopia young adults books because it has such a unique, original, and imaginative world and concept. The idea is that particular girls can manipulate ‘the weave’ and use it to manipulate the events in Arras. I can’t find the words to explain it right but Albin explains it very clearly and beautifully. Even if you don’t understand the concept right away it becomes more clear as the chapters go on.

Adelice is a strong character who wants to protect the people she cares about as much as she wants to get out of the Guild’s controlling hands. I like how she doesn’t lap up the lavish lifestyle the Guild provides for the Spinsters, not really caring for all the beauty treatments and expensive clothes. It shows she has an independent mind. I also like that she isn’t inherently rebellious like many other protagonists in the dystopia/utopia genre. Her parents drive her to rebel and hide her gifts to protect her from the Guild controlling her, which propels her into a path away from the rules.

The ‘villains’ of the story aren’t necessarily completely evil, and have their own motivations for their actions. They help move the book along as they continually attempt to push Adelice into a mould of the perfectly behaved and obedient Spinster.

The one thing that let the book down (and why I only gave it 4.5 stars instead of 5 stars) is that the love triangle sneaks into it. This crops up in so many young adult books that I find it incredibly annoying. In most books it isn’t necessary for the plot and if it is then it is a very weak plot device. However, it isn’t too bad in Crewel as Adelice’s whole world doesn’t revolve around her decision between these boys. It’s very much a side plot which comes up occasionally but which isn’t constantly being shoved in your face. The two ‘love interests’ have good personalities and they actually have a past which very much influences their actions, emotions and personality.

At first I wondered where the plot was going to go as at the start it is mostly about Adelice being at the academy. Then there are twists and turns and the plot begins to build up and get very exciting. I found myself unable to stop reading once I got into it. There are a few slow parts but mostly there is lots going on and it kept my attention.

Overall I was sad when it was finished and itching to get my hands on the next book. I was also disappointed to not be able to give it the stunning five stars I wanted to due to the love triangle issue. What makes this book special is how fresh and original it is and how amazing and imaginative the concept of the book is. I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone interested in dystopia/utopia and is looking for something mind-blowingly unique and exciting.

Book Review: Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris

Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris

Genre: Young Adult, Science-Fiction, Romance, Mystery

Publishing Info: June 7th 2012 by HarperCollins Children’s Books

Pages: 445

Star Rating: 3.5/5


Back Cover Summary:


Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.

And killed.

Then Ben Michaels, resident stoner, is leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows Ben somehow brought her back to life…

Meanwhile, Janelle’s father, a special agent for the FBI, starts working on a case that seems strangely connected to Ben. Digging in his files, Janelle finds a mysterious device – one that seems to be counting down to something that will happen in 23 days and 10 hours time.

That something? It might just be the end of the world. And if Janelle wants to stop it, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets – and keep from falling in love with him in the process…


I really wanted to love this book. When I started it I was really into it, really enjoying it, really gripped by it, then I don’t know what happened. It started off so well with lots of mystery and suspense. Then it took a different turn and went in a completely different direction to what I was expecting (won’t give away any spoilers). I like books which surprise me and aren’t predictable, so this is a good thing. It’s also a bad thing because what started out as a thrilling mystery suddenly turned into a bizarre science-fiction revelation. I love science-fiction, but I just didn’t like this angle in this particular book. It had great potential as a thriller, but the science-fiction just made it unbelievable and too out there. It spoiled what started out as a great book, in my opinion.

Janelle’s character was good and fairly likeable, though I know some other readers have commented that they found her annoying. I felt she didn’t really change that much as a character and there was much more potential for Norris to develop her character and improve her character arc. Ben Michaels was a good ‘love interest’ character, but he wasn’t anything spectacularly different from all the other characters out there. Norris adopted the all-too-familiar love interest who is different inside to the image he projects on the outside. What was good to see was the ‘romance’ treated as a side plot, not the main focus of the story like it is in so many teen and young adult books.

There were several other important characters. The relationship between Janelle and her brother is portrayed very well and also Janelle’s friendship with Alex is believable. However I found Elijah an annoying character because he always seemed to be yelling. I get he’s a troubled character but he just seemed a bit too over-the-top.

The writing style was good – Janelle’s voice was sustained well all the way through – but nothing particularly new or interesting. I felt the book dragged on a bit. It was quite long and I don’t really think it needed to be so long and drawn out.

I wasn’t particularly happy to find out there are going to be more books in this series. The story ends at the end of the book, yet there are going to be more of them. It always seems to be the case with teen and young adult books that it has to be a series. Sometimes they would work better as a standalone and in this case more books really aren’t necessary. I probably won’t be reading them, not because I didn’t enjoy this one, but because I’m happy with where the story ended in this book.

Overall I enjoyed reading Unravelling, mainly because I liked the element of mystery in it and Norris managed to surprise me. I only gave it 3.5 stars because it didn’t blow me away. It wasn’t bad by any means but it wasn’t amazing.