A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Trust and teamwork among friends. Dealing with the past, not burying it, so that forgiveness and moving on is possible. Darkness within and without can be combated with hope and laughter.
Positive Role Models
When Puck/Robin Goodfellow is injured by a dark creature, all his worst aspects reemerge (including horns and hooves). He's vengeful, petty, jealous beyond reason when not guarding himself against it. He turns himself around by loving another and wanting her to trust him, realizing that he buried all these negative emotions without acknowledging them and dealing with them. He remembers that his biggest strengths lie in the loyalty he still has for his friends and in his sense of humor.
Violence & Scariness
Long and short skirmishes with mythical creatures including zombie dogs, undead skeleton dwarfs, a very angry tree, a massive dark creature with many tentacles. Swords and lots of magic do the killing; creatures disintegrate when they die. One creature takes its own life by putting a sword through its chest. Story of a woman forced to fight her lover to the death because her queen demanded it.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kissing and talk of lovers. Same "horny" joke told repeatedly after Puck grows horns.
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Handfuls of everything from "shit" and "ass" to "hell" and "bastard" and versions of "damn," plus three times "mofo" is used to describe a nasty monster.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mention of drunk goblins.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Iron Raven is the first book in the Evenfall series, which is a spin-off of the seven-volume Iron Fey series, which starts with The Iron King. You don't need to read that series to get into this one. Author Julie Kagawa does a good job explaining her faery world to fresh readers and the main character, Puck, may already be familiar because of his appearance in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Puck and friends encounter many creatures in the various faery lands and kill plenty in skirmishes that use swords and lots of magic. The creatures disintegrate when they die. One minor character takes its own life with a sword, and there's one story about a main character who was forced to kill her lover. Expect some kissing and innuendo (especially jokes about Puck being "horny" when he grows horns). There are handfuls each of swear words "hell," "ass," "s--t," and "bastard," and versions of "damn," and three times "mofo" is used to describe a nasty monster. Puck must deal with his more sinister impulses here, brought out by a mind-manipulating monster. When he deals with his emotions instead of burying them, he overcomes them.
Is It Any Good?
The famous trickster faery Puck gets his own spin-off series, and so far it's full of cool magic, wild kingdoms, angry tentacled monsters, and Puck's mischievous charm. There's even some romance, too, between Puck and a mysterious faery assassin (whose forgotten past will probably play an important role later in the series). You don't need to remember every detail of the seven-book Iron Fey series that came before this one, or even have read it at all, because author Julie Kagawa's world of faery kingdoms is well drawn throughout. Every place on the map, every faery creature, every kingdom association is well explained without slowing the story down or taking away from the main attraction: a monster full of negative energy that must be defeated. Puck's war with his past self that emerges because of the monster adds a nice layer to the tale and to Puck as a main character.
The only place The Iron Raven falters is in following the quest-tale formula. When Puck and friends go see an oracle after quite a dangerous, boggy journey, she's got nothing for them -- no history about the creature they are dealing with, no advice on how to defeat it. At their next stop -- which is really another detour to take care of some rabid trees -- there's barely any information to glean about the creature either. And at their final destination, a mad faery leaves us hanging as well. Here was Kagawa's chance to build the intrigue for the big monster showdown. Still, the showdown is exciting, and Puck comes through in heroic fashion as only Puck can, laughing his way through it.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.