Rad Reads

Still stuck at home = the perfect time to get lost in the dark, magical world of The Iron King

Welcome to our new Bestie Book Club—a community for book lovers from Girls' Life magazine

If you're new here, hello and welcome, book lovers! Here's how this works: each month we read, discuss and obsess over a new book so if you haven't signed up already, be sure to follow us on Instagram where you'll be able to find Bestie Book Club updates, special contests and giveaways, event invitations and more. 

Here's a quick list of everything you'll find inside this post (and beyond). Just remember, *major spoilers* are ahead, so look for the spoiler ratings before you read!

+ Buy the Book
+ Quick-Read Recap
+ Commentary from our Bestie Book Club
+ Details on how to participate

Spoiler level: Low

Let’s face it: We’re all needing a little bit of an escape these days. Our recommendation? Add the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa to the top of your summer TBR list.

It’s got everything you could ask for: From an enticing, entrancing faery world to dueling, sworn-enemy crushes to a girl-powered protagonist who is secretly a princess. It’s a nonstop adventure with countless twists and turns, plus a story of what happens when technology and imagination intersect.

Scope our sneak peek below at the first book in the series The Iron King (warning: major spoilers ahead) then meet Allison, Lauren, Alana, Ally and Kimberly (all in our Bestie Book Club) who share why they can’t get enough of this curl-up-on-the-couch read. Psst: Want skip to the spoilers and just read our (low spoiler) Bestie Book Club reviews? Click HERE.

Spoiler level: High

At the start of the series, Meghan Chase is your average teenage girl. Despite her father’s mysterious disappearance many years ago, she lives an unassuming, quiet family life on a pig farm with her mom, stepfather and little brother Ethan. She hangs with her BFF Robbie, avoids the mean girls at school and dreams of the freedom that comes with her driver’s license (oh, and for a run-in with her secret crush, Scott).

But on Meghan’s 16th birthday, strange things start to happen. She sees dark creatures in the shadows at school. And Robbie starts acting, well, inhuman. Then she discovers Ethan has been replaced by an odd, violent changeling, who is wreaking havoc on her home and parents. What is happening?

That’s when Meghan finds out the truth: Robbie is actually a faery named Puck (yes, from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream). He’s from Faeryland, where King Oberon and Queen Titania rule over countless magical creatures and unseemly evils lurk in their midst. It’s where the *real* Ethan’s been taken—and where Meghan knows she must go to rescue her brother and save her family. As Meghan packs her bag, it’s clear that the world she knows is about to change forever.

Faeryland isn’t the paradise you might expect. Meghan finds herself trapped in thick forests, avoiding terrifying dangers from hungry goblins to cruel wisps. Even worse, she’s lost Puck to guide her after he vanishes early in their journey. A clever talking cat, Grimalkin, saves her life and leads her where she needs to go.

When Meghan reaches King Oberon, that’s where the *real* drama starts. She discovers Puck has been transformed into a raven as punishment for bringing her to Faeryland, but that’s not the biggest surprise of the day: It turns out that Meghan is King Oberon’s biological daughter.

Meghan is shocked at the news that her mom had an affair with King Oberon. It feels like everything she knew about her life was a lie. She doesn’t want to believe it. At first, she’s skeptical that she’s half-faery—that is, until she looks in the mirror and sees her own physical transformation, complete with paler skin, angular cheeks and pointed ears.

When she meets her real father, more changes are on the way. Meghan wakes up to find that her go-to baggy jeans and T-shirts have been burned and replaced by a gleaming, fancy emerald gown. It’s not her style and she’s immediately angry.

Queen Titania is angry, too. She’s not happy to have King Oberon’s daughter from another woman in her court—and Meghan nearly faces her ferocious wrath until Oberon confronts his wife and defends his daughter.

Meghan is told she must stay until Elysium, a festival in which the Seelie and Unseelie Courts come together to maintain their “very uneasy truce”. Elysium introduces Meghan to the Unseelie fey—a cast of goblins, creeping bogeys and nightmarish creatures—and their ruler, the darkly powerful Queen Mab. Spotted in Queen Mab’s entourage? Prince Ash, the hunter boy Meghan saw in the forest back when she was lost.

Meghan is dancing with Ash when a chimera attacks and she discovers that she has to go to the Unseelie Court to rescue her brother. Amid the chaos, she escapes Oberon’s court with Grimalkin in tow. They head off on another wild adventure through the forest and all its mischievous, and sometimes violent, tricks and creatures.

Puck, still a raven, joins them along the way and Meghan is happy to be reunited with her friend. They trudge through a barren, frozen, wintry land known as Tir Na Nog. Prince Ash joins them, too. Even though he and Puck are sworn enemies (and can’t stop fighting), as a member of the Winter Court he can help protect Meghan from the icy cold.

Suddenly, Meghan is kidnapped by spidery monsters. She’s told that King Machina—ruler of the Iron Fey—wants to see her (and that he is the one who has her brother). But before she has time to ask any questions, Ash and Puck arrive. Puck distracts the monsters so Ash can help Meghan escape.

They trek through more icy forests and meet equally icy faeries. Meghan tries to forget her attraction to Prince Ash, reminding herself that he’s from the enemy court. She wonders about the Iron Fey. The fey of Faeryland are “born of the dreams of mortals,” so perhaps the pursuit of other dreams—science, technology, progress—has led to these iron creatures. Puck and Ash agree that the Iron King is dangerous and must be slayed. They come upon an oracle who needs one of Meghan’s memories in order to give her the clues she needs.

Puck, Ash and Grimalkin help Meghan get to the Iron King. But when she finally faces King Machina, she is alone—save for Ash, slumped in the corner and injured.

Meghan spots her brother in a cage and is instantly overcome with emotion. The Iron King explains that he only kidnapped Ethan because he wanted to meet Meghan. “Your father would have blinded you to this world forever,” King Machina explains of Oberon. “He is afraid of your power, afraid of your potential.” As Meghan realizes she’s trapped, Ash leaps forward to fight the Iron King. But it’s Meghan’s magical power, found from deep within her, that summons the roots and vines from the ground and eventually kills the king. She grabs her brother and feels herself falling….

Back in the human world, Meghan discovers that three months have passed. She reunites Ethan with the family, opens up to her mom and they discuss King Oberon and the fey—and Meghan realizes that she can’t remember the man she thought was her human father, thanks to the memory stolen by the oracle.

That’s when Ash arrives to fulfill their contract and take her back to the Winter Court. Meghan knows it’s time for her to leave the human world, and she and Ash disappear into the moonlight. Wanna know the rest? You’ll have to read Book 2: The Iron Daughter

Spoiler level: Medium

Did our Bestie Book Club love The Iron King? Read on!
We *had* to chat about The Iron King with fellow readers who are just as obsessed as we are. Meet Allison, Lauren, Alana, Ally and Kimberly—all of whom could totally relate to Meghan and her struggles. What makes Meghan such an amaze heroine? What’s the romantic moment they can’t stop rereading? We’ve got the deets.

Allison @book_dragon06

What are your usual reads? "Anything! If the plot catches my interest, I'll read it. I'm mostly drawn to YA books, paranormal romance and books about animals."
What lessons did you learn from The Iron King? "Don't judge a book by it's all senses. Sometimes a character can originally come across as dangerous and distant, but it just takes a special relationship to bring through their best self."
What was your favorite scene? "When Meghan, Ash and Puck are battling with Ironhors. Puck's witty banter gave soem lightheartedness to the chilling scene as they were essentially battling for their life and it's the first moment where the reader sees that Ash is willing to sacrifice himself to protect Meghan."
Her Book Bestie pro tip: To create her magical Insta aesthetic, Allison uses natural elements and light to mimic the cover.

Lauren @laurenpaigepictures

What are your favorite books? "My top three are The Perks of Being a Wallflower, To Kill a Mockingbird and Eleanor and Park."
Which character did you find the most relatable? "Definitely Meghan. She was very brave, funny and caring with a unique, fun personality."
How would you describe The Iron King to your BFF? "As a captivating fantasy novel that is a great read for teenage girls. It's entertaining, exciting and action packed!"

Alana @alanalintao

Is The Iron King similar to the books you usually read? "This story was definitely unique because it involves characters from classic literature, which I thought was super cool."
Can you describe the book in 5 words? "Thrilling, enchanting, captivating, spellbinding and addictive."
What lessons are you taking away after reading? "I learned that, like Meghan, you need to find your own inner strength to complete your goals."
Her Book Bestie pro tip: Match your nails to your book! Alana uses the shade Warm Gray from Smoke & Mirrors

Ally @thenatureofpages

What type of books are your favorite? "I love fantasy. They whisk you away to magical worlds and let me use my imagination."
Who would you recommend The Iron King to? "If you enjoy sassy characters and comebacks—as well as a swoon-worthy love interest—this is totally your read! Imagination is a big part of this book, so read The Iron King if you have big dreams and big plans!"
What lessons from the book will you apply to your life? "Keeping an open mind and adapting to situations is important."

Kimberly @kimberlygirkin

Sum up The Iron King for us, Kimberly. "The Iron King is a crazy story of a relatable girl who finds out she's actually part of a beautiful, chaotic, fairy world. Come for the story and stay for the romance. Also, Grimalkin. He's a mood."
Would you recommend the book to your BFF? "Totally! Anyone with an interest in magic and mystical lands will fall in love with the world created in the book. Also Shakespeare fans will love all of the references to A Midsummer Night's Dream."

What are you looking forward to in the next installment of the series? "Seeing how Meghan continues on this path of self-discovery. No doubt there will be many new obstacles to overcome."

So you've read the book and you're ready to talk all thing The Iron King? Wondering *exactly* how the Bestie Book Club works and what it means to be a member? There are so many ways you can get involved—whether it's solo, on social media or with your whole squad. Here's a quick list...
+ SOLO. Take your personal reading game to the next level using the themes of love, friendship and family as a guide for your own journaling and personal reflection. If you love to read, it could be fun to start a special book diary where you keep track of all your favorite novels—and the personal musings they inspired.
+ ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Share your thoughts on The Iron King using the hashtag #glbestiebookclub on Twitter and Instagram. (Just remember: You have to have a public account for us to be able to see and respond to your posts!)
+ WITH YOUR SQUAD. Host an IRL (or Zoom) book club party, of course! Be sure to tag us in your snaps so we can share them.

by GL | 5/15/2020