A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What 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.
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What's the story?
In THE IRON RAVEN, the goblin market is supposed to be a safe place for all of Faery to do business. Not the day Puck shows up. A fight breaks out between redcaps and a very old faery named Nxy. She's looking for Kierran, the king of the Forgotten, and Puck found him first. Nxy is Kierran's protector in the Between and arrives with some bad tidings. A whole village in the Between is missing, and a dark force hovers there. Puck accompanies Kierran and Nxy to the Between, where they find the town overrun with zombie dogs, angry antlered shadows, and an invincible monster covered in dark tentacles. Before the monster flees into the River of Dreams, Puck takes an icy tentacle to the head and finds out what the monster is truly capable of. His memory is flooded with rage and vindictive thoughts, and he grows horns and hooves. Suddenly he's more like his very old, destructive self, Robin Goodfellow, whom he thought he made amends for long ago. Though Puck vows to help Kierran and Nyx warn the rest of Faery about the rampaging monster, he's worried that his old persona could be just as dangerous as the monster stalking Faery.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in The Iron Raven. Why is Puck's battle with himself sometimes more threatening than, say, a fight with a zombie dog or a redcap?
How did Puck learn to fight the monster? What did he discover about himself in the process? What monsters in other books can you think of that feed off tough emotions? The dementors in Harry Potter come to mind. What others can you think of?
Have you read the books in the previous Iron Fey series? How does this one compare?
- Author: Julie Kagawa
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Book Characters, Bugs, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Inkyard Press
- Publication date: February 9, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 17
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: February 21, 2021
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