The Lost Prince (Call of the Forgotten #1), by Julie Kagawa (review)

February 25, 2013 The Lost Prince, YA fantasy 0

Category: YA fantasy
Series: Iron Fey #4; Call of the Forgotten #1
Publisher: Harlequin Teen, 2012
Book Source: Publisher’s review copy through Netgalley
First, a confession.  I hadn’t read the first Iron Fey trilogy when I started The Lost Prince. (Well, actually, I had started The Iron King a while earlier, but had to return it to the library before I finished it.)  So I “cheated” and read the end of the third book.  I wanted to have at least some idea what was going on before delving into The Lost Prince.  
It’s a good thing I did.  The Lost Prince was enjoyable overall, but it does assume at least some familiarity with the world and characters of the original Iron Fey trilogy.
Ethan Chase is Meghan’s younger brother – the little brother she rescued from Faerie before she left the mortal world forever.  Now Ethan is seventeen. Angry at Meghan for abandoning him and determined to protect his family and avoid the disruptive and heartless fey, Ethan keeps everyone at a distance.  He’s prickly, sullen, and surly, with a bad-boy reputation which is only partly unearned.  (That fire at his old school was really the fault of the fey.)
But then Ethan discovers that the fey and half-breeds in our world are disappearing.  And that whatever is taking them is after him, too.  When he and a popular school journalist are threatened by these ghostly fey at a martial arts tournament, there’s only one place to turn for help —  Ethan’s sister Meghan.  The Iron Queen.
What works: Kagawa’s world has the same creepy, neither-safe-nor-predictable fascination of Alice’s Wonderland – not the Lewis Carroll version so much as the movie starring Johnny Depp.  Kagawa’s fairies and fey are capricious and often powerful, and their interests rarely coincide with those of mortals.  Ethan is fully mortal, but unlike most of us he can see the fey – which makes him more a target for their mischief than ordinary humans.  Kenzie, the pretty school reporter who befriends Ethan against his will, is an engaging and plucky heroine with well-hidden troubles of her own.  The growing attraction between them is well-written, and Ethan’s knight-errant tendencies are the most admirable thing about him.  An unexpected (to me) third character, Kierran, is intriguing…  and I really appreciated that Kagawa didn’t turn the trio into the semi-obligatory love triangle. The plot is well-constructed and the writing is both descriptive and taut; Kagawa kept me reading and left me wanting to find out what happens next.
What I didn’t like:   For about the first third of the book, Ethan really annoyed me.  I understand why he is so angry and keeps everyone at arms’ length, but apart from his unwilling compassion toward a half-fey boy and his protectiveness toward Kenzie, I didn’t find him very sympathetic as a character at first.. His half-belligerent, half-resentful attitude grated on my nerves. (Perhaps it’s just because I’m so far from my own teen years, but even when I was teen, I was never attracted to the sullen, angry type.)  At one point, I was so put off by him that I almost stopped reading. 
Fortunately, once Ethan and Kenzie enter the Nevernever, he slowly becomes more likeable.  You begin to see his softer side, and he lets go of some of his prickliness.  Eventually, I began to enjoy the book, turning the pages with increasing eagerness.  By the end, I was hooked and wanting more. 
Rating: 3 ½  stars
Recommended for: Fans of the Iron Fey novels, Maggie Stiefvater’s Ballad, and YA fantasy.

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