The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1: The Lost Prince
Little brother Ethan is now a teenager and despite his herculean efforts to remain quiet and unnoticed, he's spent the past few years getting the reputation of being a troubled kid who acts out. Of course, this is all nonsense, as really it's just that Ethan seems to be a magnet for the fey and their mischievous attention means he gets blamed for many things, like burning down school property. Ethan's number one rule is to pretend like he cannot see them -- because if they fey know you can see them, then that's when it all goes wrong. He's repeatedly been blamed for destruction or bad behavior and all he wants to do is graduate high school so he can make his mom proud (though at least even if they don't talk about fairies, she's aware of all that he's up against). He tries to keep his head down but he isn't completely dim in thinking that just staying quiet will keep him safe-- in his spare time, he studies a Korean fighting technique for self defense. Ethan hates the fey -- not just for making his life miserable, but because Megan chose them over her mortal family, and he has a particularly focused dislike for Ash, the fey he blames for Megan's leaving.
The book kicks off with Ethan starting at yet another new school and all the requisite characters are there -- the suspicious authority figure, the punky and seemingly out of his league girl who is stubbornly interested in him, the jock jerks, and the Phouka/fey kid who gets picked on and is destined to be Ethan's best friend. Unsurprisingly, the general arc of the story will take Ethan to the place he least desires to go--the Nevernever--on a chase to rescue the Phouka friend and the girl will get swept up in it, too. Characters that we came to love in the first series will make a return, though Kagawa is careful to keep our focus on Ethan and that's really for the best.
So let's be honest. Fans of Kagawa will enjoy themselves no matter what she writes so long as Ash and Puck make an appearance. Points for Grimalkin, too. My rating is really based on the fact that I was pleased to be back in her fascinating world and she does at least write characters that I find a bit predictable but I enjoy. It was simply fun to read The Lost Prince and that was that. Of course, the big criticism I have is this: Kagawa keeps setting up these big reveals and anyone with any sense whatsoever had loooong ago figured out that which she presents as a big surprise. It was a little painful at times as I waited for her to just reveal them already so we could move on... but then she'd start detailing the Iron Realm and I'd practically purr with contentment at the descriptions. I have faith that even if Kagawa can't surprise me with certain little twists that she'll absolutely continue to take the story to interesting places.
In short, if you're a fan of the Iron Fey series, you'll be pleased and if you aren't, then you likely won't be won over. New readers should not begin here as you need a grounding in original series to understand a great deal of everything that's going on. And you'd miss out on half the fun of the interactions, so go start there. I'll absolutely be reading the next installment to see if all my predictions for the characters pan out.