One of the scariest things for me about reading books I enjoy is how little I have to say about them. The Iron Fey did not begin this way, but by book three I feel I’m running out of talking points. This is not a good or a bad thing, there’s simply not a lot to discuss, especially as there’s no real ‘developments’. The plot in these books moves exactly where you expect it to, with no real push or pull suggesting anything else. If I’d made a bullet list of what I expected to happen in this book, I’d have gotten every mark correct.
Still, there’s no denying these are also great books. Yes, predictability can be a curse, but it works for this series. It’s a popcorn book, a blockbuster event which lacks a certain substance but does nothing ‘wrong’. The world of wild fae mythos and original iron fey is fun, the monsters and ideas around them are fun, the action and battles and powers are… fun. This is a book where metal beetles march forward on the battlefield crewed by musketeer fey, where Puck throws balls of fur which turn into full size grizzly bears, and where, again, a fairly regular housecat is invulnerable to danger and every immortal being appears to owe him a minor debt.
These books do not need to be edgy, twisty, dark messes. They work just as they are- cliche romance bordered by great concepts, worlds, and creatures, where the ordinary teen ends up being queen and all the bad guys are vanquished forever.
Plot, characters, everything
I mentioned last time, but this book series was written in like, two years (or published within that time frame at least), and thus it makes sense how much each book feels like the book before it. You could rather smoothly combine them all into one novel and there would be very little disruption in flow. This book and the one before it especially run right into each other and represent the culmination of the few plot arcs of the series: Ash and Meghan’s romance, and Meghan’s role as the next iron queen.
Yes, she does finally realize she is the next iron queen in this book! It was obvious last book, so it’s about time- oh, wait? What’s that? No one STILL puts things together, and she only really explicitly notes she’s supposed to be the true monarch at the very end of the book? Huh. Yes, despite even more characters pointing out Meghan is the ruler of the iron fey after killing the last king, she still takes a very long time to do anything about it. At the end she sits on the throne and is able to combine her summer magic with her iron, making the iron fey lands less hazardous to the world of Nevernever and putting herself as queen… but again, that’s the end of the book.
This book, like the prior ones, is mostly an adventure story. Our heroes are again on a quest to do something (this time kill the false iron king), and spend the book heading from place to place and meeting an odd cast of characters in various set pieces until the final battle scene. That’s not to say this format isn’t enjoyable, and I properly felt the action in this book was at points gripping (I was worried about who would live or die, and the casualties of war). Still, it is pretty much the same gist.
With that in mind, there’s not a lot of growth for our cast to do. Meghan is not as much an idiot this time around, back to being stubborn and headstrong, but she can’t use magic for most of the book. Ash is wholly devoted to her, putting an end to the love triangle drama that dragged last book down. Puck is back to being excellent, except he’s STILL longing over Meghan… dude… you can do so much better. You’re Puck. Stop being creepy and telling this 17 year old if her boyfriend dies you’d still be totally down.
There is also another flaw in this book: it’s not. Quite? The end. Yeah, there’s 7 books out right now in this series, but even this isn’t quite ‘the end’ of the trilogy. It ends almost as you’d expect, except Ash is still a fey who can’t live with his girlfriend in the lands of iron. So rather than a completely done ending, we have a tiny bit of set up for Ash, and his next book where he plans to become mortal. On one hand, sequel hook makes sense for a book which has a sequel, but on the other it disrupts the strange trilogy/quartet this book has going on, drawing attention to something we probably could have seen more of in this book rather than introduce at the end.
The only other mild nag I found in the story was that of the villain, the false king. We don’t know his identity for a long time, but since it’d be odd if he was someone new, we can guess. I do not feel like the false king made sense- I didn’t understand his motives for suddenly being hugely evil, and also so much more powerful than the last iron king. He seemed to have turned cruel and mean out of nowhere and in sharp contrast from what we knew of him before, in the first scene. This also turns the first iron king into… I guess they try to paint him more as a ‘good guy’, which again feels like a twist that came out of nowhere and makes little sense.
Overall, though, I’m sticking with a high rating for this book. I read it in one sitting and loved reading it. I was excited the whole time through, always looking forward to picking it up whenever I had to put it away for a minute. I like the whole cast, I like the world, I like Grimalkin, and I like this series. I expect to pick up the rest of the books, but unless it goes off the rails in either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ territory, I have a feeling I’ll struggle to write reviews here about them.