Fairy stories, in my opinion, are some of the more difficult stories to follow. The characters are more often than not richly developed, oddly named and there are so many that it is genuinely challenging to keep track of who is who. A multi-book story arc makes it even harder to follow and I have learned from experience that unless a character is especially memorable it is in my best interest to assign a mnemonic device to the minor characters to help me differentiate them. As useful as I have often found this trick, it was completely unnecessary in Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey Series. A ringing endorsement for the series from where I stand.
The Iron Fey Series is made up of four books and three ebook novella's. Each story adds an additional important layer to this richly developed world. Julie Kagawa's character's are a mix of her own creations and well known favorites borrowed from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Nights Dream. Considering the series is a fairy tale, her use of Puck, Oberon and Titania are a perfect choice and it brings an instant familiarity to the reader. The reader feels a certain level of awareness from page one that Meghan's best friend is someone that they have already met, someone they are quite friendly with in their own right. Making the reveal of the characters true identity a few chapters in almost unnecessary, but still welcome.
The most ingenious aspect of this series though has to be the Iron Fey themselves. As I read the first book I couldn't stop relating the story to the Matrix movies, and honestly, I couldn't say why. The gritty feel of the Iron Kingdom immediately brought Matrix imagery to mind. This series felt unlike any other fairy story that I, and I would venture to guess, most people have read. The juxtaposition of an old world steeped in tradition, torn apart and fearful of modern technology and what it does to their existence is the best examination on the fear of change and what it does to people that I have read in a YA novel. I am sure that in writing the series Julie Kagawa was just hoping to create a story that readers would fall in love with, but she also happened to create an analogy on tolerance in the process. Considering the state of the world we live in and the need for acceptance of different views and approaches to living ones life this should be a must read for all YA readers.
Of course, as most YA novels do, the series has a compelling love story, and a wonderful friendship between the main character Meghan Chase and best friend Puck; which often addresses the questions of wether or not a man and woman can really be just friends. The series covers all the bases: love, loss, friendship, family, loyalty, acceptance, courage, growing up and last but certainly not least, action. With an array of rich supporting characters, this is one that I would definitely recommend for both female and male readers. There is enough action and humor outside of the love story to recommend this series to all readers.
A spinoff of the Iron Fey Series, Call of the Forgotten, is already being published beginning with The Lost Prince, featuring Meghan's younger brother.