by Julie Kagawa
Book 1, The Iron Fey Series
I will warn you, this isn’t really a review, but more of an analysis of whether or not I feel this book is Steampunk, Elfpunk, or just a really good story. This is also just my opinion.
I’ve been hearing a lot about this book. Mostly, it’s because I keep being asked the same question — “Is The Iron King Steampunk or Elfpunk?” To which I always shrug and reply, “I don’t know, I haven’t read it.” I went as far as tweeting Julie Kagawa, the author, and asking her (she probably though I was loopy). She patiently replied that she didn’t think it was either.
Finally, I got the time to read it to decide for myself.
So…is it Steampunk or Elfpunk?
Honestly, I don’t think it’s either.
Yes, there are definitely elements of both Steampunk and Elfpunk in the book, yet, in my personal opinion, they’re not strong enough to really define the book.
This is not to say, it’s no a fabulous book — because it is a fabulous book–it’s just that according to me I wouldn’t define it by either label.
There are some neat steampunky-elements among the iron fey. Ironhorse just sounds plain old awesome. However, if you’d remove these elements and just made them bad fey, the story would still stand. I’m going out on a limb here and staying I wouldn’t even define it as having “steampunk elements” because there just isn’t enough steampunkyness, in my humble opinion.
So, then, why isn’t it Elfpunk? After all, there are fey roaming around the human realm, and there are rebellion themes?
This was much harder for me–and feel free to disagree. If this story took place almost entirely in the human realm, I would say yes, but it seemed to lack that integration Elfpunk stories have, even when the characters go back and forth between the human and faerie realms. That is not a bad thing, this story didn’t need more integration, everything she does for this story works well, it’s just that to me, this puts it out of the Elfpunk realm.
There is a ton to love about this book. It took me about a hundred pages to get into it, but I think it was because this was the first time I ever read an e-book (and I read it on my computer) than having to do with the actual story. What floored me was the world building. As you know, I am a big fat faerie lore nerd. I love how she incorporated classic faerie lore and characters like Oberon, Puck, and Queen Mab into her story while giving everything her own twist. There is action, romance, and a faerie world filled with creatures, which true-to-form, aren’t always nice.
Also, I’m a sucker for stories about bad bargains. Oh yes I am.
So, it you’re looking for a specifically Steampunk or Elfpunk story, this may not be the book for you.
But if you’re looking for a really good read, with lots of faeries and good folklore roots, then read away.
It’s number one in a series with three books out so far. She’s even giving away a novella free until April.