Book Review: Ironside by Holly Black

4 out of 5 Stars

The Blurb

In the realm of Faerie, the time has come for Roiben’s coronation. Uneasy in the midst of the malevolent Unseelie Court, pixie Kaye is sure of only one thing — her love for Roiben. But when Kaye, drunk on faerie wine, declares herself to Roiben, he sends her on a seemingly impossible quest. Now Kaye can’t see or speak to Roiben unless she can find the one thing she knows doesn’t exist: a faerie who can tell a lie.

Miserable and convinced she belongs nowhere, Kaye decides to tell her mother the truth — that she is a changeling left in place of the human daughter stolen long ago. Her mother’s shock and horror sends Kaye back to the world of Faerie to find her human counterpart and return her to Ironside. But once back in the faerie courts, Kaye finds herself a pawn in the games of Silarial, queen of the Seelie Court. Silarial wants Roiben’s throne, and she will use Kaye, and any means necessary, to get it. In this game of wits and weapons, can a pixie outplay a queen?

Holly Black spins a seductive tale at once achingly real and chillingly enchanted, set in a dangerous world where pleasure mingles with pain and nothing is exactly as it appears. 

My Thoughts?

Cruel, sarcastic, and darkly intriguing–the perfect finale to the Holly Black’s Modern Faerie Tale trilogy. This story is just as gritty as the previous novels, but manages to tie the plot lines together in a way that is heartwarming and satisfying.

Kaye, a pixie changeling, is trying to find her place in the world. She wishes that place was at King Roiben’s side, but begins to wonder when he sends her away on an impossible quest. So many of their interactions are based on miscommunication and an incessant need to protect one another (ugh…boring). Luckily much of the book focuses on the development of other character arcs and interactions.

The relationship between Kaye and her human mom is so honest and relatable. I love how this book handles Kaye coming to terms with her true heritage while figuring how she fits with her human family and friends. We also see more development from Corny’s character and a much darker, twisted side of him. Though it’s not all trauma and death–his arc leaves room for a bit of new and heart warming romance (Yay LGBT representation!).

The plot is well-paced and does a great job incorporating characters from the previous two books, both in cameos and starring roles. There’s adventure, battle, and trickery galore. The writing style is sharp and pulls no punches. Several trigger warnings including character death, homelessness, attempted suicide, drug use, torture, and murder.

Overall, I enjoyed Irionside and give it 4 out of 5 stars. I’d recommend this novel for any fans of gritty fairy tales.

Happy Reading!

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