Ash and Meaghan have been exiled from their Courts... but that doesn't take away the looming threat of the Iron Court.
So you can probably guess what "The Iron Queen" is about, now that Kagawa's heroine has finally gotten together with her wintry prince. The first half of this book is kind of fragmented, but Kagawa neatly ties off the whole storyline of the false king of the Iron Fey -- and throws in a rather shocking twist that I did NOT see coming.
Exiled from their Courts, Ash and Meaghan start tying off various plot threads -- they go hunting for tokens so they can free Meaghan's stepfather from the Leanansidhe, and retreat to a woodland lodge so Ash can teach Meaghan to fight. Meaghan also discovers that Puck was involved in her dad's abduction, but she still needs his help to master Summer magic.
Then Oberon and Mab make Meaghan an offer -- they will lift the banishments of Ash, Puck and Meaghan if she goes into Iron Fey territory and kills the false king. Since she inherited Machina's Iron power, she is the only one who can stop the Iron Court from destroying the other Courts. But achieving that might take away what she loves most.
It takes awhile for "Iron Queen" to achieve liftoff -- the first half of the book is dedicated to wrapping up plot threads from the last two books, and prepping Meaghan for whatever is ahead. However, the second half is really excellent, particularly a climactic twist that Kagawa blindsides us with in the final chapters. If there wasn't another book coming out, I would be demanding she write one.
And Kagawa's atmospheric, richly-detailed writing shimmers, whether she's describing the chilly technofaeries or the haunting decay of New Orleans graveyards. The Faerie world feels somewhat less dangerous and more distant than it did in the last few books, but then again, Meaghan and Ash spend more time in the mortal world.
Meaghan goes through a lot of wrenching emotional issues in this book -- her romance with Ash hits some speed-bumps, and she has to deal with her unraveling friendship with Puck and the secrets he's kept from her. One of the most moving, powerful subplots in the story is her desperation to regain her father, who spends much of the book in a semi-amnesiac haze.
Julie Kagawa wraps up some of the many plot threads in "The Iron Queen," but the door is left open for a forthcoming sequel. Wrenching, powerful, a little disjointed.