Series: The Iron Fey: Evenfall #2
As Evenfall nears, the stakes grow ever higher for those in Faery…
Banished from the Winter Court for daring to fall in love, Prince Ash achieved the impossible and journeyed to the End of the World to earn a soul and keep his vow to always stand beside Queen Meghan of the Iron Fey.
Now he faces even more incomprehensible odds. Their son, King Keirran of the Forgotten, is missing. Something more ancient than the courts of Faery and more evil than anything Ash has faced in a millennium is rising as Evenfall approaches. And if Ash and his allies cannot stop it, the chaos that has begun to divide the world will shatter it for eternity.
Book 2 in the Evenfall series and I’m starting to wonder if perhaps this series has started losing its charm on me. The Iron Sword marks the 9th book – NINTH – in this Iron Fey world Julie has created. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adored it. Fairies were all the rage in the early 2010s, and may be making a mini comeback with the surge of some popular series recently. Yet there’s just something off that made me enjoy this book less than I had anticipated.
First off, let me just say that I absolutely ADORE Ash. He had his own POV book once before, in the fourth book of the overall series, and I gobbled it up like a pie straight out of the oven (not that I do that often). While Meghan was a fine protagonist, I wanted to see the world as he did, this old fey who had lived many human lives and seen the inner workings of the Winter court. He was their cruel prince (ha ha) until he fell in love and sought to become partially human by gaining a soul.
Fast forward some other doomsday prophecy the entire gang defeated – did I mention I missed the middle series and have yet to read them because I didn’t like Meghan’s brother who had grown up to be a very surly teenager? – and now there’s yet another problem coming to bite the entire land of fey known as the Nevernever. Does anyone get a break? Clearly not as Robin Goodfellow aka Puck so cheerfully pointed out. He was the protagonist of book 1 in this Evenfall series which was fun and wild as I imagined he would be, but I was more surprised and eager to know Ash would be the main POV here.
Now, I find myself here with very uncertain thoughts even after some time towards this book.
The nostalgia factor was definitely high with this one and I can’t fault it for leaning into it. Familiar faces from ALL the books make its way into this storyline and it was great to see. Julie is an excellent storyteller and can weave all these appearances as part of the plot. I didn’t mind that at all. I fell back into this world like it hadn’t been a decade since I first found this magical realm just under the human eye.
Likewise, Julie is great with the plot in the sense that it always feels like an adventure. From trekking through the Between to search for Keirran to finding interesting sources in the human world to aid them on their quest, the gang never stays just in one place or with just one task. Things move along and that’s GOOD. However, sometimes it felt like their tasks were very minor and we didn’t really get to see what it was leading towards until near the very end. Maybe this once didn’t bother me if this was a normal pattern before, but it definitely wasn’t my favourite thing to get to the climax and only then feel the adrenaline surging for “the end of the world”.
Also, how many times can the world be ending? I swear, each of these 3 series faces one doomsday prophecy and it’s starting to get old. Does nothing else exciting besides the ENTIRE fate of all the worlds happen to them all?
The only saving grace for this book and its rating is definitely because of Ash. The first prince I ever loved (who wasn’t human). Can exhibit sweetness but only to those he really cares for, and full of disgruntled charm and deadly grace in fighting. I liked that it explored his struggle with his darker, Unseelie side he thought had been vanquished when he earned his soul. Book 1 explored it with Puck which was a highlight for that book, but I liked the internal monologue we got to see up close for Ash who on the outside wouldn’t voice a thing about what was going on inside.
The ending was also just starting to get exciting. At least now I know what the heck Evenfall is, and so does the entire gang in the story, so I’m hoping the next book (please say it’s the last one in the series) will at least move into the penultimate battle against this new Big Bad. I will make one comment and say that no matter how many offshoots and tangents this series goes, Julie’s writing leaves doors open like this where it can be explored if given the opportunity. I don’t think she intended 9 books for this world, but the fact that little Easter eggs were hidden to explore further from even the very first book shows the breadth of her imagination for this world she’s built. And that, at least, is something to look forward to.
I’m happy to say The Iron Sword held up well with its portrayal of Ash who now gets the hot seat POV again while bringing in all the old faces from all the previous books together for another doomsday adventure. If it weren’t for him and the dive into his internal struggle against his old nature, I’m not sure what I’d do. Written in Julie Kagawa’s style, the nostalgic OG group sets off on another adventure through the Nevernever and the human realm to seek out the meaning of Evenfall and how to prevent it. Some of the earlier quests felt a little unnecessary and slow but the climax proved interesting enough to continue as they race against yet another end of the world scenario (hopefully their last one). While it’s becoming clearer that I’m outgrowing this series a little, I’m glad to see I haven’t outgrown Ash. If I could bottle up Ash into all the books I read, I wouldn’t have a problem with that at all.