This is the third book in what I thought was going to be a trilogy, but turns out is shaping up to be an ongoing series (don't you just love fantasy?). So, once again, if you're bothered by spoilers for previous books in said series, you may want to skip this one. Cause my first paragraph here spoils the heck out of the first two books.
Meghan Chase has had a heck of a year. Having to go into Faerie to rescue her little brother, she discovers that she's the half-human daughter of King Oberon of the Seelie Fae, that her best friend is actually the legendary Robin Goodfellow, better known as Puck. She does manage to save her brother, kidnapped by the Iron Fey (faeries made from technology, basically, sort of like cyborgs) by killing the Iron King. Along the way, she also falls in love with Ash, a Prince of the Unseelie court. As she is the daughter of Oberon, and he is the son of Mab, their love is forbidden, and since they refuse to break up, they are both banished from the Faerie realms forever.
Or so you might think. Only it turns out that there is a new Iron King, whose vast armies are moving through both the Seelie and Unseelie lands with terrifying speed, poisoning the earth and making it uninhabitable for the traditional Fae. Mab and Oberon are willing to pardon them, and revoke the banishment of Ash, Meghan and Puck (who can't stay away from Meghan and has defied his king to help protect her) on the condition that Meghan, the only one who can go into Iron Fey territory without being poisoned, tracks down and kills the new Iron King. Meghan has already realized that her mother, stepfather and little brother will never be left in peace, and has had to fend off several attacks from the aggressive Iron Fey, so she agrees.
She needs to figure out a way to use her Summer and Iron glamour without getting really sick; she needs to convince Puck that while she's very fond of him, she only loves him as a friend; she needs to figure out her new relationship with the overprotective and immortal Winter Prince who has abandoned his home and everything he knows to be with her; she needs to find a way to keep her mortal family safe; and lastly, she needs to venture deep into Iron Fey territory and defeat the usurper Iron King, who wants to kill her to get the powers she received when she killed his predecessor. Simple, right?
I was a little bit wary about starting The Iron Queen as the previous book in the series, Iron Daughter, was a bit boring, and dragged, and most of the characters, who had seemed perfectly decent in the first book were annoying, melodramatic and extremely deserving of a hearty slap. Happily, it seems that Kagawa is back on form, and Meghan, who was wishy-washy and whiny and mostly TSTL in the previous book, has now matured a bit, and is a much more enjoyable character to read about. Not that there weren't bits when I wished she'd THINK more, it was painfully obvious to me from the start who the new Iron King was, yet she seemed to be totally flabbergasted by it.
Ash gets more of a personality in this book, which is good, because cold (literally, he's one of the Winter Fae), dark and brooding was getting a bit dull. The rather forced love triangle of the second book seems to have been resolved without too many problems, and just to make sure the star-crossed lovers don't get too comfortable - the events at the end of this book sets up interesting new challenges for the Summer Princess and the Winter Prince. I'm not as dismayed as I might have been that this series will continue, after all.