The Iron Knight

This book actually came out a few months ago, and I’m ashamed to say that I just now got around to reading it. The Iron Knight, by Julie Kagawa, is the fourth and final (?) installment of the Iron Fey series.

I was a bit disappointed at how the last book, The Iron Queen, ended. I really wanted there to be a happy ending! The Iron Knight began where the previous book left off, with Meghan in the Iron Realm, and Ash and Puck still in their respective courts. As normal fey, iron was lethal to them. Even though he knows that trying to be with her might very well kill him, Ash is determined to find a way to be with his love.

Ash and Puck finally find Grimalkin, that sassy and adorable feline, who acts as a bit of a guide in Ash’s quest to obtain a soul. As a Winter fey, he knows he cannot survive in the Iron Realm, but as a human, with a soul, it would be possible. He is, quite literally, on a journey to the end of the world, encountering places in the Nevernever that have been long forgotten, or considered myths.

There are certain events along the way that make Ash question his decision, bringing back powerful memories and feelings from his past. But the promise that he made to Meghan cannot be broken, so he decides to continue on the path he had previously chosen. When he finally reaches the end of the world, he must be tested. These tests are brutal and force him to realize what it means to be human. His body will become weak, his reflexes slower, his senses dulled. And after a lifetime of this, he will die. To be human is to be mortal. When he understands this, he is forced to consider all the implications of his decision.

While I won’t ruin the ending by including any spoilers, I will say that I liked the ending to this book and the series much better than the end of the last book, (and the initial ending of the series). There were quite a few heart wrenching moments in the story, and during some parts, I couldn’t see any way for the story to end well. Ash seemed trapped and destined to be apart from Meghan, but he still actively looked for a solution. And there was more than one instance of true love, and the sacrifices made for it.

I sincerely love the author’s writing style and the way she can put so much feeling and emotion into the words. I’m sad to say goodbye to Ash, Puck, and Meghan, but they have the promise of a full life teeming with possibilities ahead. And I’m looking forward to reading Julie Kagawa’s new series, the first book of which is scheduled to be released this April.

The Poison Eaters

I gave Holly Black another chance. This time, I didn’t read one of her novels, but a compilation of some short stories. The Poison Eaters and Other Stories includes twelve short stories, with subject matter that runs the gamut. Vampires, werewolves, faery, devils, elves, and other magical beings are just a few of the characters contained in these pages.

I believe my favorite story is Paper Cuts Scissors. It is about Justin, a young man who is trying desperately to get his girlfriend back after she has folded herself up and put herself in a Russian novel. He begins studying for a library science degree and finally gets a job organizing books in a man’s private library. After midnight each evening, characters come out of the book and have a party, hosted by the librarian. Justin returns one night with his girlfriend’s book, and watches as she comes out of the pages, meeting other characters and jumping into other books. But maybe she doesn’t really want out of the books after all.

Most of the stories here were very raw, dark tales. Many included sex, drugs, and alcohol. I can’t deny that that the author’s writing was excellent, but I can definitely prefer other types of characters and stories. It seemed like many stories were about very trashy people. That’s fine, it’s definitely real life, but that is not the only way to go, either.

So, basically, while I overall enjoyed this short story collection, I still haven’t made up my mind about this author. She’s a very talented writer, that can’t be denied. I have read about some of her newer books, and the story lines look very interesting, so it’s still possible that I will read more of her work in the future.

Tithe

Since I’m a fan of young adult paranormal romance, I thought I’d give author Holly Black a try. I’d read some good things about The Modern Faerie Tales, so I decided that I’d read Tithe, the first of these books, and the author’s first book.

Kaye Fierch is a sixteen year old misfit. Her mother, a talented but unsuccessful musician, drags her from city to city. Finally, they end up in New Jersey, living with Kaye’s grandmother. Kaye and her friends smoke, drink, curse, and hint at being sexually active. She says she is Japanese, but has blond hair. She doesn’t go to high school, she shoplifts, and her best friend lives in a trailer park. She is hardly the expected heroine of a good adventure and love story.

Still, she captures the attention of Roiben, a knight of the Unseelie Court, when she saves his life. Unfortunately, she also has the attention of the Unseelie Queen, who wants to use her as a blood sacrifice, or the tithe, that will bind the solitary fey to the Unseelie Court for the next seven years. The solitary fey have other ideas though, and want to use Kaye for their own purposes.

This book was definitely a darker faerie tale than other books I’ve read. The beginning of the book was so irritating that I almost had to stop reading it, but towards the end, it did have some redeeming qualities. In some places, the writing was a bit unclear and difficult to follow. And I really didn’t like Kaye. She was not the type of person I thought deserved a sexy faery knight. I found her a bit disgusting, amoral, trashy, skanky…

Anyway, while I do not have a high opinion of this book, I might try Holly Black again. (When I got Tithe from the library, I also picked up two more books by this author.)

Finally Finished!

I’ve finally finished the rough draft of my novel. (Actually I finished it over a week ago, but due to work, etc., I’ve been a bit too busy to write this post.) It began as a NaNoWriMo project last year, and I made the 50,000 word goal to be considered a winner. However, November 30th was the last day I looked at it….until about three weeks ago. All I had to do was add a few closing chapters to tie up the ends. The rough draft is complete, coming in at about 57,000 words. All it took me was six weeks! Over a stretch of about 10 months….

But I’m quite thrilled with this small accomplishment. Yes, I know the book is pretty much crap, but that’s why it’s called a rough draft! But it is complete in that it has character development and a plot. It needs more work, of course. But as the only person who has read most of it so far has said, “It’s better than some of the crap that’s published.” And I guess that maybe that’s true. It still doesn’t mean I’m sending out query letters though. Just yet. Maybe eventually? Or maybe when I write something better? After all, this is my first novel. I could consider it practice.

Anyway…. The working title is Queens of Winter. I’m not thrilled with this title, but until something better comes along, I’m going to stick with it. As you can probably guess, it’s a young adult fantasy novel. More specifically, a faery novel.

Reagan is looking forward to the summer before her senior year. As a talented dancer, she has been accepted into a summer arts program, along with her best friend Gabe, who is a talented pianist. Finally, she feels as if she is where she belongs. But when she meets one of her dance instructors, Kai, she is immediately attracted to his ethereal grace and captivating dark good looks. All is not as it seems, though. Reagan is really a half-human, half-fey. She is a true faery princess. Her relationship with Kai progresses, but can she trust him? Especially when she discovers that his motive in getting close to her has all been an assignment? Her feelings for him cause her to be led into the dangerous Unseelie Court, where she must discover who she really is if she wants to save herself, and Kai as well.

Summer’s Crossing

I just finished reading Summer’s Crossing, the newest work in Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey Series. This novella was only published as an e-book, and like her last e-book, Winter’s Passage, it was offered as a free download. Quite generous of the author.

Summer’s Crossing picks up where The Iron Queen left off, but it is a story about Puck and Ash. Meghan is only in the thoughts of these two characters during this story. Ash and Puck are beginning to look for Grimalkin, when someone else finds them instead. It is Leanansidhe, and she’s come to call in a favor that Ash owes her, in exchange for the fact that she helped Meghan. Queen Titania has stolen one of her new toys, a prized Violin that she wants back. Ash’s task is to stroll into the Summer Court and steal back the violin. Since he is a Winter fey, his only chance at succeeding is with Puck’s help.

Along the way, when Ash has gone off by himself to hunt, King Oberon appears before Puck, letting him know that he will not be at the Summer Court and will be out of their way for the task at hand. He doesn’t care much for the attention that his Queen has been giving to her new toy and feels a bit ignored. Oberon also hints that if the Winter Price somehow disappeared or came to harm while in the Summer Court, Meghan would then be free to court and win Meghan Chase. King Oberon disappears and leaves Puck with a lot to consider.

Pucks glamours Ash into a Summer Knight and takes on a similar guise himself, marching them straight to the middle of the Summer Court where Titania awaits. But will Puck aid Ash in his task or will he betray him in the hopes that with Ash out of the picture, he might someday be able to win Meghan’s love himself?

This was a very quick read, and of course very entertaining, showing a bit more of Puck’s character, and Ash’s as well. I still want to find out what happens next in the series, but that will have to wait until the publication of The Iron Knight, in October. But this novella was a nice morsel to snack on while waiting for the final installment.

The Iron Queen

The third book of the Iron Fey series was released this month, and like the first two books, I couldn’t put it down! The Iron Queen, by Julie Kagawa, continues the story of Meghan Chase, picking up where The Iron Daughter left off.

At the beginning of the book, an exiled Meghan and Ash are planning to visit Meghan’s family, but when they arrive, some iron fey are waiting for them. They want to capture Meghan and take her to the false king. Meghan knows that she (and her family) will never be safe until the false king is defeated, and that the longer he remains in power, more and more of the Nevernever will be destroyed.

Queen Mab and King Oberon have a short-term alliance, fighting the Iron Fey together. They also know that the false king must be stopped, but the only one who can enter his realm is Meghan, and they already exiled her! So, they make Meghan (along with Ash and Puck) an offer of pardon. Their exile will be lifted if Meghan agrees to kill the false king. Knowing that there is really no other option, Meghan accepts.

In addition to the usual cast of characters, a few more were introduced. It turns out that since Meghan defeated King Machina, the gremlins now consider her their master. One such gremlin, Razor, was especially cute, and I guess as cuddly as iron can be. Also, the rebel leader (there are still iron fey who are loyal to King Machina and oppose the false king), Glitch, was an honorable character as well.

Meghan, Ash, and Puck finally figure out exactly how to get to the false king. While Ash and Puck are busy fighting other fey, Meghan comes to the conclusion that the only way to defeat him is to sacrifice herself. She fully believes that she is going to die and after the false king is gone, asks Ash to take her to the great tree that is now King Machina. Knowing that staying in the Iron Realm too long will kill him, she uses his true name and tells him to leave, wanting to save him before she dies. Of course, she doesn’t die, though. Instead, being the one to wield the power of Machina, she has instead become the Iron Queen, and her duty is to her people and her Realm. And since killing the false king, the Realm has borders and is no longer encroaching on the rest of the Nevernever.

The new Iron Realm incorporates both Summer and Iron, and Meghan is half summer fey, which allows Puck to visit. However, the Winter Prince still cannot be around iron without getting terribly sick and even dying, so Meghan does not see Ash again. As a faery queen, she knows she has time, but she still longs to see him.

At the end of the book, Meghan goes to visit her family (her mother, stepfather, and little brother). After being gone for over a year, she is finally able to tell them about what has happened to her. After a tearful goodbye, she leaves the house. She believes that she can feel Ash’s presence, but then convinces herself that she is imagining things. She returns to the Iron Realm with Glitch, her first lieutenant. However, Ash and Puck are both there watching her. Ash knows that he must find a way to be with her in the Iron Realm, which sets up the scene for the fourth (and final) installment in the series, The Iron Knight.

I do have to say that while I did tremendously enjoy this book, it was not my favorite of the series. I think The Iron Daughter still has the top spot. I was really expecting a different ending, one in which Meghan and Ash would be together. I wanted the fairy tale, but ended up getting the faery tale. Anyway, it seems like Ash is determined to do what it takes to be with Meghan and I’m excited to find out how his story unfolds.

Darklight

Back to reading again! I haven’t read a book since, well, since October. And since I read Wondrous Strange, I’ve really wanted to read Lesley Livingston’s second book in the series, Darklight. So, within mere hours of finishing winning NaNoWriMo, I was at my local library, checking out this book.

It has been about six months since Kelley Winslow has seen Sonny Flannery. He is back in the Otherworld, doing the bidding of Unseelie King Auberon, tracking down and killing recently released members of the Wild Hunt so that they might not inflict chaos and destruction on the Faerie realms. Kelley now has the lead role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet back in New York, but misses Sonny more that she can say.

Stubbornly and sentimentally, Kelley cannot stay away from Central Park. One of her excursions ends in a wild chase from an angry and homicidal leprechaun, which results in being thrown into the Otherworld. Her happy reunion with Sonny is cut short, as magick in the Faerie realm seems to have plans for them.

Eventually, Sonny gives up his chase for members of the Wild Hunt, telling Kelley that he loves her and he will never leave her again. Meanwhile, Kelley discovers secrets about Sonny’s father, and power that has been passed down to Sonny. In a “final battle,” Sonny believes that Kelley is dead, causing him to unleash the power he didn’t know he possessed. It is strong and could take over, forever changing him and being dangerous for those around him. Kelley finds a way to hide this knowledge from Sonny, retrieving something that was taken from him that is able to hide this power from Sonny himself.

Kelley knows that Sonny loves her, which makes her the most dangerous person for him to be around. If something ever happened to her again, Sonny could again unleash his power and leave a path of destruction in his wake. This is too much for Kelley to bear, so she puts her acting skills to work. Sonny overhears Kelley’s conversation with her roommate and best friend, Tyff. “I don’t love Sonny Flannery,” she says. And as everyone knows, Faerie can’t lie.

I did enjoy this book, and I’ll definitely read the third and final book in the series, Tempestuous, when it is released later this month. This was a quick read, full of action and a bit of romance as well.

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