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Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale by Holly Black

on December 20, 2012

Ironside-A-Modern-Faerys-Tale-214x300 Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale by Holly Black

Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale is the third and final installment in Holly Black’s urban fantasy trilogy Modern Tales of Faerie series. Holly Black is also the author of The Spiderwick Chronicles.

Though some of the characters in Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie make appearances in this book, only Luis, the kid with the ability to see through the faerie’s glamour (which is called True Sight), and his troublemaking brother, Dave, act as major players in the story.

The book starts off with Kaye going to Roiben’s coronation, while Corny goes to find out ways to stay safe from faeries.  He starts off by looking through the library to find reliable information on faeries, and ends up kidnapping a small imp to get information from the source.

Yeah, in case you’re wondering Corny is still really messed-up from the events of Tithe: A Modern Faerie’s Tale. I mean, I don’t blame him for not being totally fine (in fact, I applaud Black for knowing how to write a character who has undergone some pretty serious trauma well), but at the same time I found myself feeling a little scared when seeing how far Corny goes with his revenge on the faeries. In a way, that makes his part of the story really interesting.

Back to the plot: Kaye goes to Roiben’s coronation in the UnSeelie Court. See, Kaye is worried that she is not good enough for Roiben, because she has spent most of her life thinking she was human, and his people would judge him for it.  Which is probably a good thing, because it’s made very clear early on that they do.

During the after-coronation revel, Kaye has a bit too much wine and her fears of being inadequate get the best of her. Some random faeries tell her that the best way to prove your worth to royalty in faerie culture is to declare yourself to them, after which the monarch will give the declarer a task which upon completion, the declarer will become that person’s consort. And so, Kaye declares herself to Roiben.

And Roiben gives her this lovely little task: to find and bring to him a faerie that can lie.

One would think that that wouldn’t be too hard, since the fae are known for their trickery. Well, here’s the thing: faeries by nature are not able to lie. And by that, I mean they are literally unable to lie. I’m pretty sure that this comes from an old legend.

After that disastrous mistake, Kaye meets up with Corny and she tries to move on from Roiben’s obvious rejection by going to her mother’s concert at a local bar. While they’re there, Corny spots a faerie that’s spying on Kaye. He then lures said faerie into the bathroom and tries to torture him into giving him advice against faeries. This doesn’t exactly work, he’s spotted and the angry faerie curses him so that anything Corny touches turns into ash.

And then, after they escape the cops, Kaye and Corny meet Kaye’s mom at her she’s really a changeling that some faeries switched out for her real daughter.

The mom takes it surprisingly well, in that, Ellen just kicks Kaye out instead of attacking her for kidnapping her daughter for what could have been her entire life.

I’ve decided that Kaye is the queen of bad decisions.

And so, by chapter 4, our heroine is homeless and the only person she can truly trust can’t touch anything without it withering away, and frankly isn’t at 100% mentally. Once again, Kaye and Corny get trapped into nefarious faeries plots, and with the help of Luis, a homeless teen with the ability to see the faeries for what they really are, they have to figure out the Seelie Queen’s plot to capture the UnSeelie Court before Roiben gets taken down.

After reading all three of these books, something I’ve noticed is that both Kaye and Val (the protagonist of Valiant: A Modern Tale) both had a tendency to be reactionary heroes for a good first part of the book. As I said in the reviews of the other books, I don’t really see this as a bad thing, as it makes sense considering that both heroines were dealing with forces they could not control. In fact, I would say that this is one of the few times where this worked to its advantage.

Ironside was a nice blend between Tithe and Valiant, keeping the horror and kind of meandering plot of the first book with the more mystery feel of the second book. However, I will say that I felt like the ending wasn’t very satisfying. Yes, the plot was resolved, but it had kind of an ambiguous ending.

Something about me and my personal tastes, I don’t like ambiguous endings.  I like to know exactly what happens to the characters I fell in love with after the book ends.  If that doesn’t bother you, then hey, different tastes, but that’s really my only huge nitpick with this book.

Overall, I thought Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale was a well done book, even if I’m not a fan of the ending.

Rating:  7 out of 10.

As for the series as a whole, I think I honestly liked Valiant: A Modern Tale the best. As much as I loved Kaye as a character I could feel myself at times getting frustrated with her as she kept making mistakes and not thinking things through. Val was a smarter and more responsible person and made planned her next move in advance. Though I definitely think that Kaye was a more interesting character, I also feel that Val was a stronger protagonist, in that Val always kept the story moving, while Kaye was easily sidetracked and the plot suffered from it. In addition, Tithe had a good concept, but had a tendency to wander from the plot for periods of time, while Valiant: A Modern Tale was better at keeping the plot at a steady pace.

I recommend the series to anyone who likes a good horror or mystery novel. However, I will once again give a warning that Tithe does have a rape scene in it, so I recommend proceeding with caution when it comes to that book.

Overall Series Rating: 8 out of 10.


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