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.
Continue reading “The Iron Queen goes nowhere new and I’m okay with that”
There’s only a mild chance this high rating is influenced by how many bad books I’d read before it.
I know I make outstanding threats against Carden Greenbriar and this is a provocative headline, but I am overall a Holly Black ‘fan’. However, reading The Iron King (book one of the Iron Fey series) was like a good punch of breath air. Specifically, it’s worth comparing this book to Tithe, Holly Black’s YA paranormal romance from the same era. Yes, The Iron King is very much a ‘regular girl turns out to be special and fey, finds feyroyal love interest, uses trickery and special-ness to avoid finale murder by someone supposedly invincible’ story. So is Tithe.
While I think there’s plenty of fun (and merit) in dissing YA tropes and cliches, it is also true those things became common for a reason. Where many other YA books from this era fail on the same ideas and plot beats, The Iron King succeeds smoothly: The love interest(s) are not toxic, the MC has a personality, the world-building is unique and original, and the writing is solid. I really enjoyed reading The Iron King, and I expect I’ll be reading the rest of the series. It’s fun, perfectly middle-ground YA with a lot of neat faeries and characters. The world needs more all powerful sarcastic cats.
Continue reading “To be honest, Holly Black’s Tithe wants what The Iron Fey has”
There’s one thing to note before I shimmy down into this: The Modern Faerie Tales is a very bizarre trio of books. Yes, it goes Tithe, Valiant, then Ironside, but you do not need to read Valiant at all, and Tithe/Ironside are far more of a duology. At this point I don’t know if I’ll read Valient or not, hence me skipping it.
I suppose I should also note the irony of me declaring this a ‘good fae book’ when I read my first fae book in 2017 and… actually, all but one of the books I’ve read HAVE been by Holly Black. I’m no expert in the genre technically, but I have been doing reading and research since I am writing a book with fae in it, plus DND has exposed me to it… as well as my hatred for SJM’s fae. So I’m not well read, but I know what a good faerie portrayel should contain, and Ironside has finally hit that mark.
Continue reading “Ironside is, at last, the kind of fae book we need more of”
I’ve enjoyed Holly Black to pick up Tithe blind, and I have to say, it was puzzling at first. People swoon over Cruel Prince and Darkest Part, but Tithe and the other Modern Faerie Tales are the awkward teenager stage between those and her beginnings in children’s fiction. Tithe often feels like it was written by a teen who just realized they could do anything they wanted in a book- there’s a lot of swearing, smoking/drinking, and sexual content right off the bat. Still, there’s a lot of likable things in this book, and a lot of the time the grime felt authentic rather than needlessly dark.
What stood out to me most by the end, however, was that this book is pretty much the same book as Darkest Part Of The Forest, which Black published 13 years later. I read and reviewed Darkest a while ago, and found it fine but not too compelling. I liked Tithe more, and there’s enough differences I couldn’t call it self-plagiarism, but the many story elements and plot points are present in both.
Continue reading “Tithe is just the beta version of the rest of Holly Black’s novels”