Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review: The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa

Release Date: October 29, 2013
Source: Netgalley via publisher
Published by: Harlequin Teen

Spoiler free review! Spoiler free for the entire series minus the summary listed right below this.

The Iron Traitor (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #2) by Julie Kagawa - Goodreads | Book Depository

In the real world, when you vanish into thin air for a week, people tend to notice. 

After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as "normal" as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for-his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again. 

But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, "normal" simply isn't to be. For Ethan's nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan's and Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all.

Not a typical review from me today as I'm not sure I could fill out my usual form and I also do not think that I will be continuing with the series any more. Not because this is a bad book - on the contrary, it has broad appeal to Kagawa and UF fans - but because I think this become a case of author-reader incompatibility.

  • Again I had issues with the beginning of the novel. The first 100 pages felt like filler to me - like there were only two real plot events with any repercussions (and one of which had consequences that any seasoned Kagawa fan will understand right from the outset, thus losing its surprise). Again catching us up on all the details from previous books, even mentioning one experience Meghan had in the very first Iron Fey novel. This is an issue I've had before with Kagawa's Immortal Rules series and possibly, if I reread the Iron Fey books, I might find this in them too. I think that I *personally* am not a fan of how the recap is inserted into the story. Certainly I appreciate the efforts to keep the reader up to date and to attract readers who are not as familiar with the Iron Fey series, but it doesn't work for me as a reader. This is partially what I mean by author-reader incompatibility.
  • Again this novel is full of imaginative details regarding the world, new Fey, the origins of the Forgotten, quests that the crew will undertake, complications to that quest and character relationships, and new action scenes that likely come from someone with cinematic visions in mind or with cinematic writing. Although I had issues with the beginning, it was clear these did not continue through parts two and three of the novel. Aside from that beginning, I also thought that it was paced really well, keeping the conflict in parts two and three highly strung with tension.
  • Again we have Kagawa humor and charm with cameos and her usual characters and romance. If you like her humor from previous novels, particularly the banter between the characters as they fall into worsening circumstances and seemingly impossible tasks, you will like it again. If you liked the romance in the first book in this spin-off series, you'll like it again. Kenzie takes the edge off Ethan's character and is ferocious in her own right. The characters also seemed easier to relate to this time around, though it would be nice if Ethan stopped feeling such self-hatred. He is the tortured bad boy type who I have previously discussed, and he has genuine conflict to make him that way. This novel also improves on its predecessor - plot, characters, character relationships and motivations, etc.
  • So what's my issue? I know, right? I've basically written that if you liked the characters, world, romance, writing, and humor in the previous novels, you'll like it again in this novel (and no rereads necessary for you!). But that's just it. I've now read four Kagawa Iron Fey novels (and skimmed Iron Knight) and her novellas, and have read her two Immortal Rules books, and I don't know that I have it in me to continue with this particular series. It's a similar blend that I've read in the previous work. Without character growth or themes that really interest me, I'm just not as invested anymore. It also has the kind of angst that I generally like to avoid. There is some character growth as Ethan learns to trust others and stop acting like that PNR romantic interest who purposely drives away the heroine because he's tortured and people die around him and all that jazz. There are some interesting themes that are repeated over the course of the series such as the importance of family and friendships, a theme that is rather reminiscent of Harry Potter and its gallivanting quest/mystery plots full of imaginative details. Still not enough for me anymore, though it seems that my case is peculiar and unlike any others I've seen (current rating on Goodreads? 4.34 stars).

Full of imaginative creatures and settings and cameos from much loved Iron Fey characters, The Iron Traitor will appeal to longtime Iron Fey fans as well as those of the spin-off series. Although I will not be continuing with this series, I hope that you do and that you enjoy this novel and the next as well.

Other Reviews:

-5 stars from Michele at Reading Lark: "And the journey to the end of this installment is full of everything we all love in Julie’s story-telling…action, adventure, romance and wonderful characters."
-5 stars from Kayleigh at K-Books: "The Iron Traitor is an emotional rollercoaster and the ending will have you needing the final book right now." 
-5 stars from Chandra at Starry-eyed Heart Book Blog: "if you love Julie Kagawa, if you love the Iron Fey series, you NEED to read this book!"


  1. Eh :( Becca (Nawanda Files) loved this one and most of the reviews I've seen have been praising. I'm sorry this isn't working for you. But you did enjoy VA though, right? Richelle Mead is the queen of recap lol. I love this recaping theme when I haven't picked these books up for quite a while (I read The Golden Lily when it came out and I haven't read a Bloodlines novel since O.o I have lots of catching up to do in The Indogo Spell and I don't remember everything so a recap is very welcomed in this situation), but when I read them after a short period of time, and in my case I have a pretty good memory, it's a little annoying. So I get ya, girl! I'm still eversorry (I just can't get enough of Brodi Ashton :D Ha!) that you aren't feeling this pretty that much :(

  2. Yeah, I love Fantasy, and High Fantasy, and stories about faeries, and...Meh. Kagawa just isn't thing right author for me. I am always really confused when people rave about her, and I wonder what I'm missing that makes the people feel so strongly.

    And recaps can really kill a series for me, too--the latest Chicagoland Vampires novel had terrible ones, too, and I'm starting to be done with it.

  3. Hey, yeah. Most of the reviews I'd seen were all praising it, so don't take just my word on it - I don't think I'd had the typical response to this book. I did enjoy VA - RM does do a lot of recap, too, but somehow feels less than recap in this. Stuff is still happening when you get a random paragraph or sentence to catch you up on what's happened. She's especially good with giving you just what you need to know for the plot to come. Eversorry that you are everloving of BA. Clearly we need to work on this :P.

  4. Hmmm, well I do still like her work and a few years back I might have said some of her novels were my favorites. I think the raving is partially due to Puck's jokester humor - you don't get a lot of that in YA; mostly one liners if any at all - and also the cinematic nature of some of her scenes. Even if they don't always feel that believable while reading, they translate well enough to my imagination, I s'pose.

    Nooo. Biting Bad? I still haven't gotten a chance to read that yet o.O. I can see that happening though - there *has* been a lot of recap from Merit each time.

  5. I'm reading this book right now, so I've skimmed through your review and I have to agree about the beginning. I will return once I'm finished to edit my comment!

  6. I'm starting this book next so I will be back to read your review in a bit, Christina! But I am a little worried. Kagawa has been a little hit or miss with me lately, more on the miss side. Though a good blogger friend just finished this and ended up really enjoying it (though I hear there is a major cliffie!) I'll return!

  7. I am not a fan of Melina Marchetta, either. At all. And I can't even tell what it is that people like about them. It's really interesting.

    And yeah, Biting Bad is really disappointing--I almost wish I'd skipped it and gone straight to the next one.

  8. Ha, yeah, I remember that from before. And you found it funny that another girl and I weren't a huge fan of The Thief :P.

    :( :( Oh god. So I take it, your least favorite of the series then? Truthfully I'm not even sure why I'm still following that series. It seems impossible to keep the same enthusiasm over seven plus books unless it's for a spin-off series.

  9. Yay! Looking forward to it & to reading your own review :D. (I also hope Disqus will notify me when you edit the comment... I'm a bit unsure how that works).

  10. Definite cliffhanger. A lot of bloggers and readers really liked this, and in some sense, it has all the elements that I think made Kagawa popular. I'll keep my fingers crossed that you end up liking this one!

  11. A reply then!

    -Beginning of the novel: it felt like a filler for me too. The story took a long time to start and yes, it wasn't very surprising either. The recaps weren't necessarily for me. I don't think someone who isn't familiar with The Iron Fey will be very confused about this book without that knowledge. It felt a bit too much like a inserted summary.

    -Yes, I think Kagawa's strong point is the details. Everything feels right and I love how she always creates this world with all the characters in it. The only problem is, the characters in this book don't have the charm from the ones in the Iron Fey. I'm always a bit too happy when I see Grimalkin or Ash: I miss them. The ones in the spin off aren't bad, I even liked them more than in the beginning, but they lack of something. I was surprised that I liked the romance so much, though. It was sweet.

  12. I haven't started this spin-off series yet and I don't know that I will. I was perfectly happy with the ending in The Iron Queen, and then she had to go and write a happier ending to that series. I'm just not sure I'll like this series any more than I liked The Iron Knight. I'll stick with her vampire series for now. Great review.

  13. I don't think that this series will be better that The Iron Queen, but I will definitely give it a try, because I absolutely loved The Iron Queen. Above all, Ash. :D

  14. Yes! I am going to visit your own review of this today, I think.

    Agreed. At the same time, I wonder why there is such a heavy recap. Do new readers generally pick up the sixth / second book set in a new world? I wonder because I think I'd be intimidated by the fact that it says NYT Bestselling series and I haven't read the earlier ones.

    Yes. Yes. What you said, though for me it's Grim and Puck :P. I do like the spin-off characters too and the romance is certainly sweet, but they're not as exciting for me either. I think it's also because it's the sixth book in the series, so it's just worn thin for me :/.

  15. Ash isn't much in the spin-off series except for the occasional cameo, but I hope you'll enjoy it nonetheless.

  16. Sounds like a good plan, Jen. I like her vampire series too and I'm looking forward to seeing where she takes it next. It is really hard to follow up with a spin-off series if people like you and me were pleased with how it ended before.

  17. I'm enjoying the series so far. But I understand your quibbles. It's a great series for those who enjoy Kagawa's novels. It's always better to quit while you think you're ahead :)


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