Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth – that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.
I love faeries and especially YA novels about faeries, so I snatched this one up right away. And to be honest, up until about two-thirds of the way through, I was ready to give this book five stars. Alas, my friends, it just was not meant to be.
Meghan Chase is our sixteen-year-old protagonist, and I somehow found her likable and real, which is huge for me. I hate 75% of YA protagonists, mostly because they’re either a) insufferable brats with no sense of the world outside their high school, or b) too stupid to live. Sure, Meghan has her bratty moments, and some stupid ones too, but she didn’t spend the book whining or running off to do stupid things. She acted like a scared teenager in the Nevernever, and sometimes she even realized how dumb she was being. That makes her redeemable to me, at least a little bit.
AS USUAL: SPOILERS AHEAD
I loved Robin Goodfellow (also known as Puck) in this story, even though I knew he wasn’t a serious love interest for Meghan. (And yes, I have sought out fanfic, and there is… nothing. Nothing at all.) (And don’t even try, Team Ash. I will cut you.) Puck was sent by Oberon, Meghan’s biological father, to watch over her and make sure she never found the Nevernever. This is ostensibly because Oberon is afraid Mab will use Meghan against him somehow, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Puck has been around for as long as Meghan can remember, though at some point she does realize she knows absolutely nothing about him. When Meghan’s brother, Ethan, is replaced by a faery changeling, Puck finally admits who he really is (he went by Robbie Goodfell before) and he and Meghan go through a portal into the Wyldwood.
The Wyldwood is full of goblins and such, and Meghan is almost killed a few times. Standard stuff, really. At one point, they’re hunted by an “ebony-haired” dude named Ash. He’s Mab’s son and he’s kind of a dick. Meghan thinks he’s beautiful but dangerous, et cetera, et cetera. (And the second I saw those words, “beautiful but dangerous,” I saw the beginnings of a love triangle. I wasn’t wrong either. SIGH.) Puck drops Meghan off in a tree, which happens to be inhabited by a very Cheshire Cat-like Grimalkin. He’s probably my second favorite character. Meghan, who is being kind of an idiot, makes a deal with Grimalkin so he’ll help her find Puck. More things happen, Meghan’s almost eaten, and then finally Meghan arrives at the Seelie Court.
Megan basically acts like a petulant child when she finds out Oberon is her father and then Titania tries to turn her into a rabbit, but she survives until the Elysium, which is actually a section of Hades’ Underworld, but in this book Elysium is what they call the Seelie/Unseelie summit that takes place biannually. Blah, blah, blah, Mab shows up and her entourage is scary, blah, blah, blah, Ash asks to dance with Meghan and he’s just ~so beautiful and icy and dangerous~. A chimera shows up and tries to eat everyone but is eventually defeated, and then everyone starts accusing everyone else of releasing it. Meghan and Grimalkin slip away in the upheaval. Destination: The Unseelie Court.
Puck finds them eventually and agrees to defy Oberon to help Meghan find her brother. MEGHAN. GET A GRIP. THIS GUY LOVES YOU. MAKE OUT NOW! The second they step onto the Winter Court’s snowy grounds, however, who shows up but glossy-haired, chip-on-his-shoulder, Imma-kill-you-Meghan-Chase, ~*Ash*~. He and Puck do their best to kill each other while Meghan is dragged away by some clockwork spiders or something. (I told you I’m not into steampunk.) They save her from an iron horse named…wait for it…IRON HORSE*. Ash is hurt by IRON HORSE’S hoof, so they go to some ice fortress to recover. The love triangle “tension” is in full swing now, even though Ash and Meghan haven’t exchanged words any more meaningful than “I’m going to kill you” and “Let’s make a deal.” Grimalkin finds this all highly amusing. I’m glad someone does.
It’s at this point that the book starts to go downhill. Not only are Meghan and Ash ~falling for each other~ without knowinganything about each other (other than they should be enemies), we’re getting into the dumb steampunk aspects of the story. Grimalkin suggests going to see The Oracle in New Orleans, so they all go. The Oracle gives them a bunch of riddles and steals Meghan’s memories of the man she thought was her father. Some chick named Virus shows up to kill them or something, but they defeat her. Puck, however, is injured by a bullet and is out for the rest of the book.
Not even going to lie, this is where I started to skim. Look, I’m not interested in clockwork fey or ~dreams of science~ or Ash’s pretty black hair, and besides, we all know what’s going to happen eventually, right?
Ash and Meghan make out in some tunnel and declare their love for one another. Meghan saves Ethan and they go home. Ash shows up to take Meghan back to Mab for imprisonment (which was part of their deal and is just oh, so romantic). And that’s it. This is an incredibly easy read, and Nagawa is really, really good at description. She doesn’t go overboard and it’s clear she did her homework and spent a lot of time on her world-building. The romance, however… I’ll say what I said on twitter: Holly Black did it better.
*So, um, IRON HORSE SPEAKS IN ALL CAPS, which is amusing, but what this asterisk is really for is to explain my confusion. IRON HORSE kidnaps Meghan to take her to King Machina (snort) for whatever reason. She’s saved and they run away, but later, in New Orleans, they’re all “We need to find King Machina and the Iron Court!” Um…but…isn’t that what IRON HORSE was going to do? Take you to the Iron Court? So why run away when YOU HAD THE SAME PURPOSE?