THE IRON KNIGHT (Iron Fey #4)
Paranormal Young Adult
Available October 25th
Received via NetGalley for review
Ash made the girl he loves a promise when he became her Knight. He would be there to protect her with his sword and with his life against any and all enemies, but when she became queen of a realm that would slowly kill him should he stay in it with her, she banished him to save his life. Now, he's on a mission to earn his humanity so that he may return to her side and fulfill his vow.
With the enthusiastic help of trickster Puck and the somewhat reluctant assistance of cat sithe Grimalkin, Ash starts out on his journey to return to Meghan. A few new friends join them on their quest, fighting unusual creatures and traversing never before seen landscapes to get to the end of the world where the trials to earn a soul will be held.
While Ash knows the journey will not be easy, it proves more physically and emotionally difficult than he ever could have imagined, and his confidence in a joyful reunion with Meghan begins to wane. Ash has never been one to admit defeat though, and he leans on his friends for strength when the final steps to earning his humanity require more than he thinks he can give.
The Iron Knight gives us the welcome opportunity to slip into the mind of a character whom we’ve previously only seen through the eyes of another, allowing us full access to the thoughts and feelings of the frigid winter prince who finally began to thaw in book three. Accompanying our highly anticipated new perspective is Ms. Kagawa’s unparalleled creativity, the journey she’s created for Ash and Puck glorious proof of her ability to stretch her characters and readers to their physical and emotional limits as we all find ourselves irrevocably invested in the outcome of the winter royal’s personal quest. At no point is a happy ending guaranteed, our fingers constantly twitching as they itch to flip the pages and skip ahead just to end the apprehension caused by our uncertainty. Part of the beauty of this world and these characters is the unpredictability however, and placating ourselves with any absolutes robs us of the true Iron Fey experience.
Spending an entire book with Ash is an absolute pleasure, our need to know more about his past and his feelings for Meghan straight from the source blissfully satisfied in this tale. Dark details of not only his relationship with Ariella, but also of life as a soulless fae are mixed with the action of the present-day adventure, crafting a stunning character portrait that starts from opposite edges and slowly works inward to reveal every facet of the Ash we've longed to see. We start out reading his story wondering if we’ll miss the romantic tension given Meghan’s noticeable absence, but Ms. Kagawa crafts a compelling and unexpected solution to that particular issue, and once again our hearts seem to swell until we’re full to bursting with conflicting fears and desires.
Puck is another highlight for us as readers, his normal humorous arrogance and big mouth present and accounted for, but we also get glimpses of a man whose life has not consisted entirely of jokes and pranks, the pain of his long and tangled history with Ash breaking through to dim his shining smile now and again. His fierce loyalty and unwavering friendship is both beautiful and tragic as he places Ash and Meghan’s happiness above his own repeatedly, proving himself to be a character we will hold dear for a long time to come in the hopes our feelings for him might magically make their way through the ink and paper to hit home.
The only mild complaint with this tale is to be found in the concluding pages as Ash faces his final trials before earning his soul. The trials themselves are brilliant–both emotionally and mentally intense–however Ash’s reaction to them is the tiniest bit disappointing. After each of the three, Ash reverts to the brooding prince we’ve seen pop up on occasion, needing one of his traveling companions to find him and remind him of the reasons they’ve all come as far as they have. The first time, and perhaps even the second, the melancholic reflection is understandable and the support of a good friend necessary, but it would have been nice if by the third time Ash could remember for himself his feelings for Meghan so that we might experience the renewal of his confidence in his love along with him, no outside assistance needed. That aside, The Iron Knight is a dream for fans of the series, each page a gift for the extra time it allows us in this world and with these characters.