Thursday, February 20, 2014

Top 13 of 2013: (#9) IRON TRAITOR (Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #2) by Julie Kagawa

Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an Advance Release Copy of Iron Traitor in exchange for an honest review.

AUTHOR: Julie Kagawa -- Twitter | Website
PUBLISHED: October 29, 2013 by Harlequin Teen
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Myth
PAGES: 304
SOURCE: ARC received from Harlequin Teen 
BUY IT: Barnes and Noble | Amazon
Find it on Goodreads

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.

It's no coincidence that I timed my first ever Throwbook Thursday post, featuring the first book in the Iron Fey series (one of my favorite YA sagas), Iron King, on the same day as my review for Iron Traitor.

The Iron Fey series is the one that really propelled me into the field of YA literature. Prior to that, I really only read YA lit if it made the news and was generating a lot of buzz. It was the series that made me seek out these wonderful books before the buzz and made me obsessed with these types of books. Some fans of YA lit call upon J.K. Rowling as the one who opened their imaginations, or Stephenie Meyer. Julie Kagawa is that author for me.

This is a series I feel that every young adult literature fanatic should read. Within YA lit, there are so many genres and sub-genres, and there within YA fantasy and supernatural so many different breeds of mythological and magical creatures. There are books in my mind that are the best examples of vampires, werewolves, demons, Nephilim, witches, you name it. Fairies themselves do not overpopulate the world YA literature. It's an old and storied mythology with deep roots, a challenge that not many authors take on, and the few who have haven't always done it well.

The Iron Fey series was my first foray into the world of the fey and in my opinion, there is no better example of fairies in young adult literature. I've searched and searched for another series that portrayed fairies as well. The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr is as close as I've come. But no one creates the magic quite like Julie Kagawa does. Her Faery is the magical land I most wish I could reside in. It's the fantasy world I most love to settle back into with each and every book. And when she closes out Call of the Forgotten (the companion series to the original Iron Fey), I will be horribly sad to say goodbye to a place that has captivated me for years now and characters who feel like friends.

I was extremely grateful to get a copy of Iron Traitor before its release from the wonderful people at Harlequin Teen. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to review it until now because just after I requested it, I was diagnosed with leukemia and though I did read it almost right away, I was having a hard time stringing any coherent thoughts together that would've resembled a well-worded review at that point in time. But I was also so grateful that it arrived when it did. In the midst of truly scary things, I was able to, if temporarily, lose myself in the pages of Iron Traitor and a literary world in which I feel at home and in which I am still inspired.

I loved Iron Traitor. It stayed very true to its base of fans. It did make me feel a little old, seeing Ash and Meagan as parents. And when I agree with their parental choices and think. Especially when I said out loud once, "KEIRRAN. LISTEN TO YOUR SEXY FATHER." Disconcerting. But in a great way. I love seeing them as "grown ups" and the evolution of their characters.

My next point and anecdote is going to seem to be taking us slightly off course, but trust me when I tell you I have a point.

I am not really a cat person. It's not that I don't like cats. I love kittens. (But who doesn't love kittens?) I even really like some cats that belong to my friends and stuff. Not all cats like me. But most cats intimidate me on some level. And this is coming from someone who has had dogs her whole life and currently owns two 75 pound Golden Retrievers and whose parents own one. Three large, strong dogs, all in one very small house do not intimidate me, but yes, cats by their very nature, intimidate the hell out of me.

My aversion to cats comes from the fact that when I was two years old, I was obsessed with Lady and the Tramp. We rented the VHS tape (so dating myself there) over and over and over and over again. I actually wore out the video store's copy and they had to get another. But then one night, I had this nightmare about the Siamese Cats from the movie and we had to take the video out of our apartment and my mom had to hold me in her arms and take me downstairs, outside, and to the car, so I could watch my dad lock it in the trunk. And for the next dozen years or so, I remained terrified of most cats and the Siamese Cats. At night, my parents actually had to get a spray bottle and they filled it with water and they would spray it around my windows and doors, because cats are afraid of water and they convinced me that that would keep the bad Siamese Cat dreams away. (This is what sleep deprived parents are able to convince a terrified and sleep deprived child of in their most desperate hour.)

I still can't watch Lady and the Tramp. My parents can't even turn it on in the house. Thinking about it makes me consider reaching for the bottle of Xanax.

I am no longer afraid of all cats. I've met some very nice cats. And I am an animal lover who donates money to humane societies and even cat rescues. I've never wished ill-will on any cats, I was just afraid of them. They still intimidate me sometimes, but I'm mostly okay with them.

The point to this? There is one fictional cat I truly love and wish was real.

One of the things I anticipate most in each of the Iron Fey books is the appearance of everyone's favorite fairy cat, with the attitude you hate to love and love to hate: Grimalkin. This was my reaction on my Goodreads/Twitter/Facebook when he showed up:

In fact, I've decided that some day I probably will adopt a little boy kitty and name him Grimalkin. YOU HAVE MOVED CAT SHAPED MOUNTAINS, JULIE KAGAWA. Seriously, major achievement. Cat yourself -- I mean pat yourself on the back.

Not only is Grim seriously just an awesome cat, he's a seriously impressive creature when you take into consideration his other animal counterparts in other books. I mean, I loved Hedwig, but I love Grim more.

In The Lost Prince, one teeny, tiny fault I found with it was that I didn't love Ethan's narration the way I loved Meghan's. I felt it was a little choppy. But in Iron Traitor, I really loved how much growth I saw in him and I really enjoyed his voice.

In general, I felt like Iron Traitor was an extremely successful book, especially when you consider the fact that the second book in any series can seem a little rough. And when it's the second book in a trilogy, it can seem like it's kind of just like a connecting flight that fills in some details and gets you from point A to point B, but doesn't necessarily add anything to the plot. Iron Traitor was so much more than than and was very substantial.

I feel like Iron Traitor showed so much character growth and adding so much excitement. I also loved the fact that it really started to build on the prophecy we learned of throughout the first Iron Fey series. I do love that this series has been a true companion that hasn't left questions from the first series behind. Iron Traitor left me both extremely excited for the next book ... yet a little melancholy, because it will be the last. But it was ultimately a satisfying book that captivated me in the same ways that its impressive predecessors did.

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