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The Lost Prince
by Julie Kagawa

Book Five of the Iron Fey series. Click here to read reviews of earlier books in the series. This review may contain spoilers for previous books in the series.
Book One of the Call of the Forgotten series.

Fourteen years ago, Ethan Chase was kidnapped by the faeries, part of a trap to ensnare his sister Meghan. Not only did Meghan succeed in rescuing her brother, she overthrew the Iron King and took the throne herself. Now Meghan reigns over her faery court with her consort Ash. That’s great for her, but Ethan hates that his sister abandoned her human family when she left to rule the Iron Kingdom. She claims it’s for their protection, but Ethan doubts it – especially since he is constantly plagued by faeries to this day. They’ve gotten him kicked out of school with their little “pranks” and they torment his friends, so Ethan has decided that the only way to protect others is to become a complete loner. But isolation is not the answer, Ethan realizes, when he gets sucked into a battle against a new kind of fey that lives off the glamor of others. When a half-faerie classmate named Todd disappears, Ethan prepares to return to the Nevernever to inform Meghan of the danger.

The Iron Fey series has always evoked mixed emotions in me. On the one hand, I love the Nevernever and the faery realms; I love the mix of traditional fairy mythology and the new, modern “iron” race. But on the other, I found the two main characters of the original series, Meghan and Ash, to be unlikeable and often dreadfully dull. Several of the secondary character made me smile, but the romantic leads were duds. I hoped that this spin-off series, focusing on Meghan’s younger brother, would capture my interest anew, because the focus would finally be off Ash and his wife.

As a character, I appreciate Ethan. He started out as a sweet, innocent child but after dealing with faeries for over a decade, he’s become bitter and isolated. There’s a dark hopelessness to his character that I think is very natural and realistic, given his situation. But even though intellectually this character works in the story, as a narrator he falls flat. Constantly, he whines about how the faeries have screwed up his life. Yes, they have but dwelling on it for three hundred pages won’t change anything! He’s harsh, even cruel to Todd and his new friend/romantic interest Kenzie. This hostility against everything in the world just gets so old, so fast.
Kenzie reminds me a lot of Meghan. She’s the strong heroine who really would defend herself if she wasn’t powerfully outclassed – but since she isn’t a faery or a fighter, she’s constantly reduced to the role of damsel in distress.

The other new-ish character is Kierran, the child of Meghan and Ash. (Due to the inconsistent time flow between the Nevernever and the human world, Ash, Meghan, Kierran and Ethan are all roughly the same age.) His mischievous nature puts Puck to shame. I wish we could have spent more time with him. Although three-quarters human, Kierran has the ability to use glamor magic of Summer, Winter and Iron fey – it would be fascinating to learn more about how he is using the powers. I was really happy that Kagawa didn’t attempt to set up a love triangle between Kierran, Kenzie and Ethan. I mean, I’ve heard of history repeating itself but that would have been just a little much.

The old familiar crowd pops up: Grimalkin, Meghan, Ash, Puck, and Leanansidhe. Sometimes they appear to move the story along; Leanansidhe figures prominently in the plot, which is fantastic because I always found her to be the most interesting of the faery queens. Other times, they are little more than cameo appearances – Puck’s meeting with Ethan is little more than a nod to Puck fans who would have howled if he hadn’t appeared at all.

We meet and view everyone through the lens of Ethan’s anger, and to be honest that was not a perspective I wanted. Kenzie would have made a good narrator – as a high school newspaper journalist, she’d report things clearly and objectively – but a female lead would have been too similar to the original Iron King. As it was, a sense of “been there” and “done that” pervades the story – right down to the discovery of a new faery court that threatens the Nevernever. I like the faery realms, but I just couldn’t enjoy this book.

2 out of 5 stars

To read more about The Lost Prince, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Sea Enchantress by Gwen Benwell and Arthur Waugh
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while...
2010: News: Tea Party Bookshop gets new identity...
2009: A Lion Among Men (Wicked #3) by Gregory Maguire


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