Monday, December 05, 2011

Book Review: Ironside, by Holly Black

Photo by Jon Mountjoy

This book is the third in a trilogy and therefore this review will inevitably contain spoilers for the first book, Tithe, and the second, Valiant.

On the darkest day of winter, Roiben will be crowned King of the Unseelie Court, and as terrible and terrifying as the Unseelie Court can be, Kaye can't resist going down to celebrate. Kaye's known that she is a faerie for a few months now, but the ways of the fey, especially the court customs, are mostly a mystery to her.

Just as they are to Cornelius Stone, who is still recovering from his sister's death and the time he spent in the Unseelie Court as the human pet of the former queen's knight, and later king, Nephamael. He's desperate to find out how to protect himself from the fey, so that they can never hurt him or his family again.

But whilst Corny is nervous and prepared, Kaye is rash and wild, and her official declaration of love to Roiben ends with her being given an impossible quest - to find a faerie that can lie. No such creature exists, and so Kaye is forbidden from even speaking to Roiben - a task that proves increasingly difficult as Silarial, Queen of the Seelie Court, is still determined to win the war and rule over Unseelie.

My favourite sequels are those that make me feel like I'm slipping comfortably into a familiar world, and I definitely felt that when I read the first few pages of Ironside. It's difficult to comment on the characterisation and world-building, because most of the characters and many of the locations were introduced in Tithe and Valiant, and Ironside provides more of the same atmosphere. I liked Kaye better, but I still didn't feel that I understood her as much as I understood Corny and Val. However, the plot was fantastic. It was a fun and satisfying conclusion to the trilogy of Modern Faerie Tales, and I was gripped the whole way through.

Although this series had a shaky start, the engrossing world, dark elements, and plot drew me in and kept me interested. I can see why these books, particularly the first one, have had mixed reviews, but if you like dark fantasy, and don't mind teenagers doing things that many adults would disapprove of, I would recommend the Modern Faerie Tales. I'm really looking forward to reading more from Holly Black in the future.

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