Transcript: Not Now, I’m Reading The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

Chelsea: Welcome back to Not Now, I’m Reading, your one stop shop for all things fandom. My name is Chelsea.

Kay: And I’m Kay.

Chelsea: And we are your, as always, intrepid hosts. We are here to do a Not Now, I’m Reading Something Terrible episode. This is a series of episodes, if you listened to our last episode you will have kind of gotten the rundown, but basically we are copying this idea. Doing this idea in homage.

Kay: Stealing.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: We’re straight up stealing this idea from the Jennys. [laughter]

Chelsea: From the Jennys at Reading the End. They do something every year which they call The Hatening in which they pick books for each other that they think they will not like based on reading tastes and preferences and stuff. So we did the same thing because it’s fun.

Kay: Spoiler! It was really successful. In that we really hated them.

[laughter]

Chelsea: I just wanna say that Kay and I have already unofficially decided that in the way that you win the Hatening I have won. Like, the book I picked for her was truly bad.

[K groans]

Chelsea: Truly, truly just not great. And we’re gonna talk about it.

Kay: Yep.

Chelsea: It’s The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.

Kay: It’s real bad, guys. [laughs]

Chelsea: Real bad.

Kay: It’s really bad. [still laughing]

Chelsea: Do we wanna take a minute to talk about what we’re reading or do we just wanna fucking go?

Kay: Let’s talk about what we’re reading.

Chelsea: Okay.

Kay: So there’s something positive in this episode. [laughs]

Chelsea: So we’ll start with good things that are happening. Other things that we’ve been reading that weren’t this one. So I finished the Sarah J. Maas fairy series that I was reading. A Court of Wings and Ruin. It was great for me. It reinforced something for me that I already knew. Which is that I will forgive a mountain of just plot shenanigans and fuckery if my ship of choice is sailing on into happiness. [laughs]

Kay: Which I can’t do. So she’s already told me not to read these. [laughs]

Chelsea: I’ve known from the beginning this was gonna be a hard pass for both Kay and quite a few of my other friends who don’t necessarily rock that way when it comes to reading, but yeah. For me? I just get very, very emotionally invested in characters. To the point where probably to the detriment of my critical reading abilities I will just be like I don’t care.

Kay: God. [laughs]

Chelsea: The Court of Wings and Ruin contains some major deus ex machina intervention type stuff.

Kay: I hate that.

Chelsea: I know. I get it. I’m not necessarily defending it. But, you know what? Just my ships all ended happily. Nobody died. Everything was fine. Like this was —

Kay: I kept bracing myself to get sad texts from Chelsea.

Chelsea: I was gonna die.

Kay: That one half of her OTP had died.

Chelsea: I was gonna literally die. This is one of the few series in a long time that I have actually had to ask people to spoil for me and they wouldn’t do it. Which —

[Kay gasps]

Chelsea: — side note. I get not wanting to spoil things for people, but if somebody deliberately asks you to tell them the ending? Just tell them the ending.

Kay: Just give them the spoiler! Oh my god.

Chelsea: People would look at me and be like I’m not gonna tell you. I don’t wanna ruin it for you. And I’m like, I’m about to have an anxiety attack because I don’t know what happens. And yes, I realize I could’ve just flipped to the end. But my thing is I don’t wanna know how we get there. I still wanna read the story.

Kay: Yeah, yeah.

Chelsea: But I just wanna know, at the end, that nobody is gonna die. [laughs] I just wanna be assured.

Kay: I for sure would’ve spoiled it for you if I had read them. Cause that’s what true friends do. [laughs]

Chelsea: And again, I thought about putting out a call on twitter, but I just wanted to know that one answer and sorry, twitter, I don’t trust you.

Kay: No.

Chelsea: I don’t trust you to only give me the yes or no information I’m looking for.

Kay: I wouldn’t trust twitter, either.

Chelsea: No. But so I finished it and I really, really enjoyed it for those reasons. There’s this really unfortunate scene where a character who’s been stuck in the middle of this weird love triangle who is revealed as a lesbian. Didn’t love it. Didn’t need to be that way. Bisexuality is a thing. Pansexuality is a thing. Polyamory is a thing. This just didn’t need to happen that way. That was probably like my biggest heavy dose of sideways. But I still enjoyed it for all that’s worth. And I don’t know if anybody saw my tweet from a couple weeks ago, but I have been reading so many romance novels in the past couple of months you guys. It’s like a fugue state. I’m not complaining. It’s great.

Kay: It’s so great.

Chelsea: So many.

Kay: That was me last year. I think I read 70 romance novels in 2016.

Chelsea: Yeah. It’s one of those things where there’s a tiny voice in the back of my head like you should really read something else. You have some SFF stuff you should be keeping up with. And YA stuff for work. And the much louder voice in my brain is like fuck that noise. More romance.

Kay: Read what you want the world is on fire.

Chelsea: Amen. So. I just finished up all of the Spindle Cove series by Tessa Dare

Kay: Nice.

Chelsea: Read all the novellas which I love it.

Kay: So cute.

Chelsea: I love her so much. I have an ARC of her next one lined up which she has said is her dirtiest book she’s ever written and Tessa Dare is already one of my favorite authors.

[Kay sighs happily]

Chelsea: So incredibly here for that. But.

Kay: So here.

Chelsea: In the meantime I have started the Sarah MacLean books, the Rules of Scoundrels series. The first one’s A Rogue by Any Other Name. It’s actually a reread. I read it years ago when I wasn’t really reading romance and I didn’t —

Kay: Random.

Chelsea: Yeah, I think because I read it about it on Book Riot. And Amanda had recommended it and Amanda’s is an opinion I really trust, but I wasn’t really in the right mindset or place for it, I think. So I gave it three stars, i liked it, but it didn’t really click with me. It did better this time around.

Kay: Nice.

Chelsea: I definitely enjoyed it more this time around. So I’m looking forward to reading the next one. Unfortunately this series seems to be kind of setup so you have to read it chronologically.

Kay: It’s one of the few that I — I’ve read those before. It’s one of the few I’d say you really do need to read them in order.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Most romance series I think you can read in whatever order, but there’s…there’s an…it’s not exactly an overarching plot, but it’s an overarching plot element that you don’t really want spoiled for you.

Chelsea: And it’s one of those things where you get to the epilogue and the epilogue is pretty much only included to indicate the pairing up of the next two characters as opposed to, like you said, most romance novels that have a bunch of people all floating around each other and the books focus on various people at various times so you can kind of read them interchangeably if you’re really worried about spoilers. I don’t really think it’s a spoiler in a romance novels that these people get together because that’s what a romance novel is but people feel differently about that.

Kay: Your mileage may vary.

Chelsea: Exactly. So I’m having to wait on the second one to come in cause I have three and four because I was like I’ll get all the ones we have and read them in whatever order. But no.

[laughter]

Chelsea: So those are the two things I’m reading. And then I just read a piece of fiction. So I have kind of fallen back into the hockey rpf since you linked me that fic Motherland.

Kay: I couldn’t help it. I saw that fic and I was like she needs to read this now.

Chelsea: It’s so good. It’s so good! It’s what I’m recommending. It’s Motherland by sevenfists. It’s a Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin rpf. It’s 60,000 words. It deals primarily with external conflict romance which is my favorite thing. Sid and Geno love each other and yeah they have conflict and whatever, but the main source of them not being together is the issues of the Russian state and the laws against homosexuality and some internalized homophobia and bigger cultural stuff. I love that. That’s like my favorite kind of romance, where they love each other. They’re fine. It’s just the world that can’t let them be happy together.

Kay: It’s so great.

Chelsea: It’s so great. I just have the goofiest smile on my face. It’s so great. I’ve read other stuff that I’ll be recommending in other episodes, but we have many episodes to record today. So. I’m gonna be done talking for now. Your turn.

Kay: So I’m reading all the things. All the things. I wanted something low stress and fun that I already owned on audio to reread and I’d already done a bunch of Austen this year. So I decided I was gonna reread the Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi. I mentioned this in the last episode. I started with Old Man’s War. I’m gonna talk about [singsongs] The Ghost Brigades today. Which is so good.

Chelsea: Have I told you that this is my favorite series of books? The Old Man’s War series? He’s super into them.

Kay: That’s delightful. They’re really funny and I never expect them to give me gut-punch feelings like they do every time cause I’m stupid and forget that that happens. Because I’m like oh they’re funny!

Chelsea: Exactly! Cause they are funny.

Kay: Yeah, but also feelings.

Chelsea: So many feelings.

Kay: Ghost Brigades is really great and has one of my favorite viewpoint characters in the series. Because he tends to rotate through a bunch of different people for viewpoint characters. They’re not first person, they’re third person, but you know what I mean. I love Jared. I love him so much. And he’s so different from any of the other adult narrators that Scalzi has ever written, I think. And I just, The Ghost Brigades is great. Lots of thoughts on personhood and free will and it’s just really good. But it will also make you cry.

Chelsea: [laughs] Which is just the best.

Kay: Which is the best! I have been reading, rereading a ton of fic lately. I’ve just been really stressed out. And when I’m stressed out I just reread shit. Over and over. Even if it’s not stuff that I should probably be rereading to de-stress. Like oh. I’ll reread this Hannibal fic. That seems really soothing.

Chelsea: [laughter] Whatever, I watch episodes of Criminal Minds when I get stressed out, so whatever.

Kay: The rhythm of procedurals is very soothing to some people.

Chelsea: yeah.

Kay: I hate procedurals, so I’m not one of those people. I get it. But the fic I wanna recommend today, well there’s a couple, but the one I want to recommend is Separately to a Wood by emungere, who’s one of my favorite writers in Hannibal fandom. And it’s Will Graham/Hannibal Lecter pairing fic. And it’s basically a love at first sight au where what if Hannibal just proposes to Will that morning in the hotel room and for some reason Will says yes. So in the very first season after they are working on that very first case, right after they meet, Hannibal’s like I’m just going to propose to this hot garbage fire of a human being, Will Graham.

Chelsea: [laughs] It’s so good.

Kay: And his eight dogs. And his bed that he keeps in his living room instead of in the bedroom and I just. Oh, somebody Help Will Graham. But actually it turns out really well for them.

[laughter]

Kay: In this fic. And emungere’s such a lovely writer and you should just read everything they’ve ever written if you read Hannibal at all. And the other fic I wanted to recommend is called Some Guys Just Can’t Hold Their Arsenic by pdameron. It’s a James Bond, the Craig James Bond, and it’s Bond/Q. And it’s basically a Q and Bond are exposed to something and have to go into medical quarantine and then they have to talk about their feelings. Which I’m always here for.

Chelsea: Always here for talking about more feelings.

Kay: And it’s adorable. Also, I do want to apologize about the noise over the next however many episodes we record. So sorry. This is on me. Not on Chelsea. Normally I turn off my A/C when we’re recording and then just suck it up if I get too hot. But it’s 122 degrees in Phoenix today and so I and all of my electronics would probably die. So you’re just gonna have to listen to my A/C.

Chelsea: How dare you not sacrifice your bodily safety for the artistic integrity of this podcast. How dare you.

[laughter]

Kay: I’m so sorry. Y’all are just gonna have to live with it for however many episodes we record today.

Chelsea: They’re probably gonna notice it over their A/C in the background so whatever.

Kay: They’re listening to this in the dead of winter like what are they talking about?

Chelsea: They’re listening years in the future in the societal collapse what is air conditioning?

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

[laughter]

Chelsea: That’s putting us in the best mental headspace to talk about the book of the week.

[Kay is laughing hysterically]

Chelsea: Best transition in the history of this podcast so far.

Kay: Greatest segue ever.

[laughter]

Chelsea: So okay. Like we said at the top of the show, we are talking about The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.

[Kay’s still laughing]

Chelsea: This is the first book in the Iron Fae series. We did not like this. TO put it mildly.

Kay: Can we just say what the fuck, how are there ten books in this universe? I couldn’t even finish this one!

[laughter]

Chelsea: There’s seven books in the main series and then like a three book spin-off series or a side series or something.

Kay: [baffled] What?

Chelsea: What the fuck? Publishing. What are you do — just okay.

Kay: I do wanna — I do wanna acknowledge that as far as we could tell this was the first book she ever published so you know. Everyone learns after their first book. it is entirely possible that this series gets a lot better. But I legit could not finish this book.

Chelsea: It’s got almost a four star rating on goodreads.

Kay: [shocked] Yeah! Lots of people enjoyed this!

Chelsea: So your mileage may vary. Lots of people like it. And just as a kind of general thing, people criticizing the thing you love has nothing to do with you as a person.

Kay: Absolutely not.

Chelsea: Just throwing that out there in case that’s something that you needed to hear. To very briefly talk about the plot of this book. Our heroine Meghan Chase is kind of going through life until one day some shit starts to go a little weird and suddenly her little brother is kidnapped and is replaced with a changeling fairy. She spirits off to fairyland to find him with her best friend Robby, who we learn to be revealed as the famous fairy, himself, Robin Goodfellow aka Puck from A Midsummer Night’s dream. Once in fairyland Meghan Chase makes an ass of herself. And doesn’t know how to follow the rules of fairy.

Kay: But not as Puck would make an ass of her. [drumroll sound] Okay. I couldn’t help myself.

[laughter]

Chelsea: Oh my god, I’m not even cutting that. I’m so sorry if my really loud laugh startled you, listeners. That joke was perfect. So Meghan Chase is looking for her brother. Along the way she makes a couple of enemies and some unexpected friends. She meets Ash, who’s the prince of the Winter court. She learns that she’s the half daughter of Oberon, making her the princess of the summer court. And she embroils herself in a little bit of a love triangle when Ash, Meghan, and Puck all sneak off to find her brother. Turns out her brother was captured by the Iron King, who is the king of a new breed of fairy. Whereas traditional fairies are bred from the spirit and the energy of nature and the natural world, iron fairies kind of progenate from technology. And from yeah. Technology. machinery. Industry.

Kay: I didn’t even get to that part of the book guys. [laughs]

Chelsea: Nope. Kay didn’t even get that far. This is a total revelation to her.

Kay: Which, to be fair, I read 200 pages of this book and I still did not get to that part.

Chelsea: This book is really long. It’s over 300 pages long. Meghan moves on. Faces the Iron King. And spoiler alert for the next five seconds: wins. She takes her brother. Goes home. And is in the process of re-acclimating to being home when Ash shows up on her door and says that she needs to come with him to the winter court because of a bargain they made when he saved her life against the iron king.

Kay: Whoopsy doodle. [laughs]

Chelsea: If this book sounds a little confusing or convoluted to you, welcome to my world. And I read the fucking thing. So.

Kay: I just am confused by literally everything about this. Not that the book itself, the plot itself is not complex so I couldn’t follow. How did all of this happen. Just how did this happen? [laughs]

Chelsea: The kind of gutpunch takeaway for me from this week is that Julie Kagawa, when she wrote it, didn’t necessarily know where she wanted it to go and what she wanted it to be. So she turned it into this weird amorphous mixture of fairy legend and horror movie and like Alice in Wonderland, Labyrinth type adventure story. It read very much so like a middle grade novel, but with more cursing. So the style choices were a little weird. Some of the turns of phrase were very odd.

Kay: So this book really exemplifies one of my least —

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: This is a bit of an aside. Exemplifies one of my least favorite things that a YA author can do. Which is to make their teenage characters make cultural references or have obsessions with things that teenagers now would not give a shit about. So I’m reading this book and I’m like I don’t understand. This was published in 2010. None of this makes sense. The heroine, Meghan, repeatedly makes references to all of these horror movies that are, they just wouldn’t be cultural touchstones for her. There are multiple jokes about Leatherface.

[laughter]

Kay: A 16-year-old in 2010 would not have any reference for. Especially when there’s repeated — so she doesn’t have, they have dial-up internet at home. So she’s not streaming things. She has a twelve-inch TV with a VHS player. It’s not like she would have easy access to VHS tapes at this time. you wouldn’t be able to get them from the library. So like either she has a massive collection of VHS horror movies that they just happen to never mention or it just doesn’t make sense. And also her iPod is a major fucking plot point. Who the fuck still had an iPod in 2010, but didn’t have a smartphone. Cause she doesn’t have a cell phone, which is also kind of a plot point.

Chelsea: I graduated 2007. By 2010 I was, I had not yet gotten my first smartphone. I was still using my iPod. But nobody was purchasing new iPods. Nobody was buying and cherishing new iPods. My iPod at that time was almost four years old. It’s and I was also, I graduated high school in 2007. I wasn’t sixteen. That’s the thing. I read this book and when I told Kay I swear to god this book was written in 2002. The cultural references. The way that the teenagers interact with each other.

Kay: I was messaging you like I’m 99% sure this came out in 2010.

Chelsea: Spoiler alert, it came out in 2010. You were right. And I was like, that explains so much to me. It reads so dated even for when it was written.

Kay: And the jocks and cheerleaders stuff is so dated and inaccurate and straight out of a bad teen movie.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: It’s literally straight out of a bad teen movie. [laughs]

Chelsea: There’s some really disturbing shit that goes on in the first little bit of this book when Meghan Chase is still living in the human world before she’s kind of learned about fairy. She’s made fun of a lot for being on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. Like her and her mom live in the swamp —

Kay: Which doesn’t really make sense. Considering where she lives. I would think most of them would be in that same position.

Chelsea: I don’t think a specific town is ever named, but she lives in rural Louisiana and they call her a swamp rat. They make fun of her mom, they call her mom a pig fucker. They make fun of her clothing. I’m not saying that teens can’t be incredibly horribly mean and petty to each other, but this just read as incredibly fake. In a way that seemed very stereotypical.

Kay: And she doesn’t even interact with anyone except her one friend. She doesn’t have any friends It’s literally there’s just people who make fun of her. But there’s not even any references to any other outcasts or anything. We’re just supposed to expect that it’s just she and her one friend.

Chelsea: That literally everyone else in this school doesn’t give a shit about her. Not even just the mean people, but everybody. There’s also that really awful dynamic that young adult books will do that thankfully I’m seeing less of. Which is the not like other girls thing. Like, oh. All of these vapid girls who wear makeup and care about their clothes.

Kay: That was real bad.

Chelsea: They’re not as deep as I am and they don’t have the pain that I have and I’m like um false. That’s not how any of that works. [laughs] And you can have that aspect in your characters because learning that that’s not how the world works is a thing that happens. But you need to address that. And have some kind of shift in that. And it never happens.

Kay: Kay wait. I have the quote where I was first like fucking sure, Meghan. It’s I sneered at the shallow rich girls who spent hours in the bathroom perfecting their makeup. You’ve literally never had a conversation with any of these girls so you don’t know their makeup habits. Maybe it takes them five minutes, Meghan.

Chelsea: And even if it does take them an hour what does it fucking matter?

Kay: What the fuck ever. It’s their business, not yours! What?

Chelsea: You sneering at them for putting on makeup is the same kind of hatred as them sneering at you for wearing used clothing. It comes from the same judgmental place of hatred. So what the fuck are you even doing. That was a side note. So let’s move on a little bit in the story towards when she gets closer to going to fairyland and her parents pop into the picture.

[groans]

Chelsea: This one gets all, checks all the boxes for stereotypical awful young adult novel parents.

Kay: So the first appearance of her stepdad is, he says that he literally always forget that she exists. So she comes downstairs and he’s surprised that she exists. Which. Okay, Meghan. And then he leaves her alone with her little brother and instead of eating her delicious bagel with cream cheese she’s made for herself to eat for breakfast — I don’t know why this bothered me so much.

Chelsea: I got so many angry DMs from Kay about this one specific scene with the bagel.

Kay: I just. She threw the bagel at the wall and it leaves a greasy smear down the wall and falls into the trash can. And she gleefully leaves the greasy smear from her cream cheese bagel on the wall.

Chelsea: She’s like he may not remember me, but he’ll know I was here eating breakfast. And I’m like just eat your bagel and sulk like a normal teenager.

Kay: This comes right on the heels of her complaining she has no money for anything. And that she doesn’t get new clothes or blah blah blah. And she comes down the stairs and wastes food.

Chelsea: Which, just to acknowledge, Julie Kagawa does include, later, in the book, a reason that it seems like no one ever remembers Meghan Chase and it’s because she’s half fairy. And fairies have that kind of cloaking glamour around them to where you don’t remember them after you meet them.

Kay: But sure, let us think her parents are abusive and terrible. That’s fine.

Chelsea: Sure, just retcon that two-thirds of the way through the book. That just seems like lazy worldbuilding. That’s just shifty. That’s bad in a different way than having shitty parents.

Kay: Also. We have to talk about. We have to talk about Robby and how she did not notice that her friend appeared out of nowhere and had no home. Or parents. Even though he’s supposedly lived two miles away, she had never been to his home. Even though they’ve been best friends for at least a decade. What?! The Fuck?

Chelsea: After the jocks and cheerleaders do this horrible thing to Meghan from A Walk to Remember, where they Photoshop her face on a naked body and then pass out a flyer. Which is awful, but legit A Walk to Remember came out in 2002.

[laughter]

Chelsea: And after that she realizes she only has one friend and she realizes she doesn’t know his favorite color. Or his favorite music. Or where he lives. Or what his parents looks like. And I’m like, that shit is weird.

Kay: The favorite music thing killed me and I DMed Chelsea and she’s like I don’t know your favorite band either. i don’t even know you, Kay!

Chelsea: Kay doesn’t know my favorite color. This entire friendship is a lie! It’s one thing to not know about your friends’ favorite or whatever. But if you’ve been friends with this guy for ten years and you don’t know where he lives? That’s weird. And you need to realize that that’s weird way before you turn sixteen.

Kay: I literally just repeatedly as I was reading this book how are you alive, Meghan? How are you alive. Not just in fairyland, but in our world. How have you not been kidnapped?

Chelsea: I don’t understand it.

Kay: She is. How do you? How do you life, Meghan?

Chelsea:I think this is the thing that leaves me so unsettled about this book. There is this weird dynamic of both assuming that the reader knows what’s happening because she’s relying really heavily on fairy mythos and the canon of kind of fairy mythology so I think she’s counting on the readers to just kind of know what some of these things are or to look them up independent of her story. But also there’s this thing where she’s trying really hard to worldbuild and doing it badly.

Kay: The fae lore thing is really weird. Cause Meghan will know things that I’m like why do you know that? But then she doesn’t know really basic things, where if you knew anything about fairy.

Chelsea: Like don’t give them your name.

Kay: Don’t make any bargains. Don’t eat anything. Don’t make any promises. If you’ve read a fairy story ever you know these things. But she doesn’t know these things. But she’ll know, like, who Titania is. But okay.

Chelsea: So you’ve, in the novel, it is established that in school they read A Midsummer Night’s Dream. So cool.

Kay: So she should know some shit.

Chelsea: Your best friend’s name is Robby Goodfellow.

Kay: Come on, Meghan.

Chelsea: And you don’t put two and two together on that, Meghan? Come the fuck on.

Kay: Come on, Meghan!

Chelsea: What are you doing? Literally, the first bookmark in the kindle version of this book is me highlighting that and being IT’S ROBIN FUCKING GOODFELLOW in all capital letters.

Kay: I’m really glad that I borrowed the ebook from the library. Cause if I have had a physical copy of that I would’ve done some accidental damage throwing it around.

Chelsea: I also would’ve been very disappointed in the $6 the paperback had cost me. So let’s talk a little bit about the worldbuilding stuff. Because I partially picked this book.

Kay: It’s so weird.

Chelsea: Because fairies are not necessarily a thing unless we’re talking Seanan McGuire fairies.

Kay: Yeah. Because we both really enjoy the urban fantasy fairy thing in the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. Oh hey. This could be sort of like that in YA form. We don’t know. We were wrong. It was not anything like Seanan McGuire.

Chelsea: Spoiler alert. It was not anything close to being like that.

Kay: Go read the October Daye books, by the way.

Chelsea: Cause I’m rereading them right now for the Hugos just for fun cause I love them.

Kay: Nominated for best series, yeah yeah.

Chelsea: So it’s just so weird to me because it’s so much of the same species of fairies cross over. There’s a lot of, I like that in the Kagawa book she incorporates other fairy adjacent stuff. Like what’s the horse in the water? Not selkies.

Kay: Kelpie?

Chelsea: And like redcaps and pukkas and some of these other goblins and trolls so not fairy but fairytale related

Kay: Which, like, she throws these things in and doesn’t actually explain what a lot of them are. So she’s throwing a bunch of names at you and if you don’t already know fairy lore it’s gonna mean nothing to you. And then some of them she’ll spend half a page explaining to you. And I could not, for the life of me, figure out how she was making those decisions.

Chelsea: She spends very little time explaining the actual, how the courts of fairy differ and how the politics of that interact. Which I think is the strength of the Seanan McGuire books. Because they’re more political books that happen to be the politics of fairy than they are fairy books. To me. At least that’s how I read them. This just fell super flat. .And I think, I guess, what I’m trying to say, to kind of gives some credit to Kagawa, is that I think I’m doing her a little bit of a disservice cause I’m comparing the two together. And they’re not the same book and that’s not fair to Kagawa.

Kay: It’s very apples and oranges.

Chelsea: It is. It’s my bad form reading them at overlapping times.

Kay: But all readers bring their previous reading with them to new books, you know? That’s just a fact of life as a reader.

Chelsea: So it happens.

Kay: Also, I have read, it has been a long time, but Holly Black writes fairy YA that I think is much better than this.

Chelsea: Yes.

Kay: And the worldbuilding made more sense. And there was also a secret didn’t know she was a half fairy person, right? In her first series? It’s been a long time since I read them. Tithe? It’s been like a decade since I’ve read them. But I remember them not being this bad.

Chelsea: I think that part of it, too, is this, even for only being seven years old, this book feels incredibly dated in the way that YA has made leaps and bounds. I think this book is nice because —

Kay: It reads like something we would’ve read in high school and we graduated ten years ago, so.

Chelsea: This book came out three years after I graduated. i was still very much so reading young adult books in that time. I still read them now.

Kay: I was like we still read YA. I think it’s one of those very of the moment books that did not age well.

Chelsea: Yeah. Yeah.

Kay: It might just be the big problem with it, honestly.

Chelsea: I agree. I think this probably came out right around the time as the Holly Black fairy series. So this was probably. Fairies had a moment.

Kay: I think this was right as that was ending, yeah.

Chelsea: And again. Obviously people love it. Publishing wouldn’t have given Julie Kagawa ten books to write if people weren’t buying those books and enjoying them and reading them.

Kay: For sure. The last of the Holly Black books in her Modern Faerie Tale series, Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside, the last one came out in 2007, which is probably when Julie Kagawa was writing this book.

Chelsea: So this was part of a wave of fairy books that came out after that. We saw post-Hunger games books. Post Harry Potter books. You know. When something sells real big in YA that’s a thing we’re gonna see a lot more of in YA. But I checked and people are still reading it now and giving it four and five stars and still loving it.

Kay: I went and looked on, one of the great things about goodreads is you can see if your friends have read and/or rated a book. So I went to see if any of our mutual friends had read this and none of them had given it good reviews. So I was like, i’m glad it’s not just us out of our friends circle who did not enjoy this. Cause I would feel like I missed something probably. We didn’t’ miss something.

[laughter]

Chelsea: No. Not for us. But man. I picked it good when it came to the Hatening.

Kay: I don’t think the prose itself is bad. The prose itself is perfectly serviceable YA third person prose. It’s not bad.

Chelsea: I think there are some parts where it becomes more than serviceable and it’s actually very pretty. There’s parts where she’s talking about color and how the glamour magic of the fairy works. There are some beautiful passages there. And my gut tells me in the next books, with some editing and some, you know, development as a writer, they get better. But uh. I’m not gonna check that out. I’m just gonna.

Kay: I’m not gonna read any more of these. No.

Chelsea: I’m gonna assume the best and let that boat sail on into the darkness.

Kay: Did you have any favorite parts, cause I had one. My favorite part is when she meets her dad, the king of the fairies, cause  sure. Of course she’s a secret princess. Which Chelsea and I both called within the first five pages because her best friend Robin Goodfellow keeps calling her princess.

Chelsea: It is a thing they talk about several times. She’s like don’t call me that and he’s like whatever princess and she’s like no don’t call me that and by the third time I was like you are clearly an actual princess.

Kay: The foreshadowing in this is not good. There’s a lot of really clumsy foreshadowing of things in this. But anyway. So she finally meets her dad. One of the fairy kings, right?

Chelsea: Yes.

Kay: He drops into their conversation that [laughs] she’s his mortal kid who’s ever actually shown up in court. So she’s there having an internal freakout like oh god, I might have other siblings. This is great. And he’s like oh, but that was in another century and they’re all dead as fuck, I didn’t mean to get your hopes up or anything about that. I was like, you’re a dick and I love you. it’s so good. her dad is so creepy. he talks about how he lowkey stalked her mom and then seduced her even though her mom was married to somebody else.

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s weird.

Kay: And he’s like she probably doesn’t remember me. By the way. I basically date raped your mom and left her pregnant and that’s where you came from. Nice to meet you. Not really. Just. What?!

Chelsea: He, as a person, is super gross. But the fact that he just does not even give a shit about all of Meghan’s stupidness? I’m just totally here for it.

Kay: He’s probably my favorite. [laughs]

Chelsea: So okay. I found. I wanna read to you the quote when she realizes after sixteen fucking years that her best friend is a fairy. Shit, I whispered, falling back against the wall. i stared at Robby with new eyes. Robby Goodfell. You’re Robin Goodfellow. Robby grinned. Call me Puck. I just thought that was particularly great, because for real? I realize that teenagers aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed all the time.

Kay: It’s almost as hilarious as when we’re 200 pages into the book and she’s like I’ll have to be really careful from now on in her head, and I’m like what were you doing before now, child who was running around in the world of the fairies? What is wrong with you? How are you alive? I spent a lot of time just saying how are you alive, Meghan?

Chelsea: And this is a total side tangent and then I’ll give you my second favorite part. So much of this book that’s frustrating is that I understand that sometimes you need naive characters. I understand that naivety and not knowing the rules of your second rule is a great way to teach the reader about your worldbuilding. I get it.

Kay: We get it.

Chelsea: But Meghan Chase is, to the point where somebody is like hey girl, you should really not be giving out your full name to fairies. That could get you in trouble. And she’s still like hi! I’m Meghan Chase!And I’m just like oh my god, Meghan. Oh my god.

Kay: Like, legit, if you’ve ever met a human who you were like I don’t understand how you were never kidnapped by a man in a van telling you he had candy, that is Meghan.

Chelsea: Like, come on. They’re like you shouldn’t make any deals. That’s what gets in trouble. She’s like oh okay, if you do this thing for me I’ll make a deal with you. And I’m like. Meghan. You’re gonna die.

Kay: I promise. And she says thank you like every five seconds. Even when her goat friend is like no don’t do that. you don’t need to thank me.

Chelsea: Her goat friend.

[laughs]

Kay: I’m not just saying this to be polite.

Chelsea: Literally stop thanking me. Someone’s gonna hold you to a life debt.

Kay: There’s a whole conversation about it and then she says thank you again.

Chelsea: I did find my second favorite part which I actually think a really could idea. And this is part of what speaks to what I like about fairies in general, this idea. Glamour is fueled by the dreams and imaginations of mortals. Writers, artists, little boys pretending to be knights. The fae are drawn to them like moths to the flame. Why do you think so many children have imaginary friends? So yeah. i think that’s very cool. There’s something awesome about the idea of imagination and creativity come to life. And that that —

Kay: It’s less cool when you realize there was actually a bogey hanging out in her little brother’s closet.

Chelsea: Man, don’t take it away from me. I’m trying to pull out the bright side of this cloud, man.

[laughter]

Kay: Her poor adorable little brother who is the only good soul in this entire book.

Chelsea: The only precious flower worth saving.

Kay: he repeatedly says the bad man in the closet is scaring me and shit like that and they’re all just like go to bed.

Chelsea: That wasn’t weird at all it’s totally fine. Moving on.

Both: Yep.

Chelsea: Oh, man. So I think that, I think we are spent. I think that is about all of the —

Kay: Wait, I have a question! It’s probably not actually answered in this book, but since I didn’t finish reading the book, was her dad kidnapped by fairies? Or was her dad just a deadbeat dad? Because for some reason, she gets into her head when she finds out her little brother was kidnapped, she thinks that her mom’s first husband was also kidnapped.

Chelsea: No, so at the end she has a conversation with her mom, and granted I skimmed this conversation cause it was like midnight and my eyes were bleeding.

[laughter]

Chelsea: But basically, Oberon seduced Meghan’s mom and then left her pregnant with Meghan cause he’s a dbag. And then Meghan, the man she was married to at the time, is the man that Meghan thinks of as her father. And he knew about Oberon so they moved away, like, on the run from them. From the faeries. Cause they just knew the faeries were gonna come collecting on that baby. I shit you not. And then that, when he disappeared she took it as a sign that he was stolen by the faeries for retribution so they moved again. So technically jury is still out on whether or not he’s alive somewhere in fairyland, but it’s framed in the narrative as the faeries murdered him or disappeared him and left his shoes behind as proof.

Kay: But he’s probably just gonna show up in another book, right? Is what I’m assuming. I’m assuming he’s gonna show up in another book, but we’re not gonna read those.

Chelsea: If I were a betting woman, knowing young adult like I do, he’s out there somewhere in fairyland. And he’s probably gonna ride in to save her ass at some very opportune moment. Probably in book three. But all bets are off cause it’s a seven book series. So who knows. Endless what the fuckery. Speaking of endless what the fuckery.

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod]

Chelsea: I think that about wraps us up for this time. But we will be back with more —

Kay: We survived!

Chelsea: — fuckery of a different variety. We’re gonna talk about And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.

Kay: It’s my pick.

Chelsea: Yes, that’s Kay’s pick for me to read. I am not a golden age mystery fan. For reasons that were well reinforced by reading And Then There Were None.

Kay: For those how don’t know, this is one of the top ten bestselling books of all time. And is the bestselling mystery of all time. It has sold over 100,000,000 copies worldwide.

Chelsea: Talk about things that I just do not understand.

[laughter]

Kay: 100,000,000 copies. It’s gonna be great.

Chelsea: So join us in a week to talk about And Then There Were None. Until then, take care of yourselves, take care of each other. Read well. And we’ll see you around. Bye.

Kay:  Bye!

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod]

Outtakes:

Kay: And I’m like, all of this is so wild. And also, why did you waste your delicious bagel? [laughs]

 

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