The Iron King



Magical fantasy blends science, magic, and Shakespeare.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The Iron King presents readers with the good and bad sides of scientific and technological innovation: The world of the Nevernever is slowly being eaten away by technology, pollution and global warming, a fact author Kagawa weaves subtly into the narrative. Technology brings human progress but also imprisons people; it's causing the fairy folk of A Midsummer Night's Dream (which some readers may be inspired to check out) to be forgotten and lost. The Iron King also shows the environmental issues caused by the Industrial Revolution.

Positive messages

Strong messages about the importance of friendship, trusting others and believing in yourself, helping your family and taking care of your relatives, being a good Samaritan and taking the high road, putting yourself before others, and standing up for yourself. Also, recognizing that you always have a choice, and trying to make the right ones.

Positive role models

The Iron King has some villainous characters, but many others are positive and good-hearted. Meghan Chase is smart, quick-thinking, and loyal to a fault. At school she's bullied by her classmates, but has her friend, Robbie, to rely on. She loves her younger brother, Ethan, and will do anything to get him back. She's brave and doesn't back down from a challenge. Even when her feelings get hurt, l she keeps her head on her shoulders and doesn't let fear or sadness overtake her. Robbie's a prankster, but he loves her and wants to protect her. Fearless, brave, and sexy Prince Ash of the Unseelie Court also takes care of Meghan.


The Iron Fey includes hand-to-hand combat, sword fighting, and monsters who kill other monsters and mythical creatures with weapons, with their fists and feet, or by devouring them. There's lots of bloodshed.


Mild flirting, caressing, kissing on lips, shoulders, and cheek.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Meghan consumes a mystical drink and food that aren't alcoholic, but do have intoxicating effects. She mentions that she has drunk alcohol before, but under adult supervision.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Iron King, first book in the highly acclaimed New York Times bestselling Iron Fey series, has likable, heroic characters, and dastardly villains. Teen Meghan Chase goes in search of her younger brother, who's been spirited away to the fairytale world of A Midsummer's Night Dream. The story includes hand-to-hand combat, sword fighting, monsters, bullying, and cruelty to people, animals, and magical creatures. Some crude language, including "f--k," "s--t" and variants, "damn" and variants, "crap," "bastard," and other name calling. 

Kids say

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What's the story?

In THE IRON KING, first in a five-book series that also spawned spinoff tales, the fey kidnap Meghan Chase's younger brother, Ethan. Meghan, who's always felt out of place in the human world, takes the plunge into the Nevernever to rescue her brother. There she meets friends and enemies, including a dangerous, sexy prince. Once she realizes why Ethan's been abducted and what it has to do with her, Meghan's life turns upside down, and she has more choices to make.

Is it any good?


Magical and heartfelt, The Iron King is a thrilling tale told in gorgeous language. Once Meghan steps into the world of the Nevernever, readers won't want to leave. Fans of Harry Potter and other exciting fantasy stories will thoroughly enjoy this book, in which characters are well developed, with their own unique personalties. Meghan's a terrific protagonist readers will root for till the cliffhanging end. They'll also enjoy Puck's humor and tricks, Prince Ash's grace and romantic charm, and Meghan's dealings with fantastic adversaries.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the idea that "you always have a choice." Do you agree or disagree? What do you think of Meghan's choices?

  • Have you read A Midsummer Night's Dream? Do you prefer the characters as they appear in Shakespeare, or in The Iron King? How are they different, or the same? 

  • What do you think about humans being so reliant on technology? What about global warming and climate change?

Book details

Author:Julie Kagawa
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Adventures, Book characters, Brothers and sisters, Fairy tales, Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models, High school, Horses and farm animals, Misfits and underdogs, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires, Science and nature
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Harlequin Teen
Publication date:February 1, 2010
Number of pages:368
Publisher's recommended age(s):13 - 18
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), iBooks, Kindle

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bylizwinn March 12, 2015
After her baby brother is kidnapped by evil faeries, high school outcast Meghan travels deep into the heart of the Nevernever to bring him back, encountering fantastical beasts, jealous faery queens, and true love. Drawing heavily on traditional lore, Kagawa’s richly imagined fantasy world provides a lovely backdrop to the story, while delightful supporting characters flank the novel’s rather average leading lady. Although there is very little objectionable material to bar this from a younger audience, (the love story is sweet and mild-tempered, and the level of fantasy violence is to be expected), the novel’s sporadic use of strong language (the worst instance is when a faery tells someone to “F*** off!”) may act as a deterrent to sensitive readers. Non-stop action and elements of high adventure and romance make this tale of teenage heroines a solid entry in YA fantasy. Recommended for Ages 15-Up.
What other families should know
Too much swearing


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