*May contain spoilers for previous books*
Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.
Unless he can earn a soul.
To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.
Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.
With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.
To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.
And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.
There is a reason the Winter Court freezes out their emotions, why feelings are considered a weakness and a folly among the Unseelie fey. Emotion corrupts the senses, makes them weak, makes them disloyal kith and court.
The Iron Fey series was originally planned as a trilogy but Kagawa's editor convinced her to write an HEA. Unfortunately, at times the story feels like an afterthought. While I enjoy a HEA, I think ending the series at book three would have made it stronger. The HEA is undoubtedly, a crowd pleaser, but I personally preferred the painful, heart wrenching ending in book three. One good thing about it is that unlike the first three books, it's told from Ash's perspective; Meghan doesn't make an appearance until the end of the story. It gives the story a different feel, and a deeper glimpse into how the fey, specifically Ash, think. There's one section towards the end where Ash has to confront and deal with all of the people, human and fey, that he's hurt in his long life and it's a strong scene that clearly illuminates the otherness of the Fey.
The story is one long, very long, hero's quest; Ash wants to trade his immortality for a human, mortal, soul. As with any hero's quest, he has a long, perilous journey. First, he needs to find the information that will tell him how to get to the end of the world, where he then hopes to become mortal. He and Puck begin by searching for Grimalkin in hopes that he can guide them there. Once they meet up with him, the actual journey begins. Along the way, they acquire companions, including The Big Bad Wolf, who was first introduced in the novella, "Winter's Passage". If you didn't read it, it's not necessary. They also acquire another companion along the way, one who shocks both Ash and Puck and is central to the story and Ash's quest.
The story felt overly long to me, as if Kagawa had a page count she was trying to fill. The journey could have been cut by a third to q quarter and been stronger for it. One thing I did really enjoy was Kagawa's sly reference to other European fairy tales, including Rapunzel and Baba Yaga. She doesn't ever use their names so if you aren't familiar with the stories, you may not catch the references.
Overall, it's a decent book, full of adventure, romance, love, heart break and excellent world building.
I received both an eARC and a print book for review.