Ironside by Holly Black
published by Margaret K. McElderry in April 2007

In the realm of Faerie, the time has come for Roiben's coronation. Uneasy in the midst of the malevolent Unseelie Court, pixie Kaye is sure of only one thing -- her love for Roiben. But when Kaye, drunk on faerie wine, declares herself to Roiben, he sends her on a seemingly impossible quest. Now Kaye can't see or speak to Roiben unless she can find the one thing she knows doesn't exist: a faerie who can tell a lie.

Miserable and convinced she belongs nowhere, Kaye decides to tell her mother the truth -- that she is a changeling left in place of the human daughter stolen long ago. Her mother's shock and horror sends Kaye back to the world of Faerie to find her human counterpart and return her to Ironside. But once back in the faerie courts, Kaye finds herself a pawn in the games of Silarial, queen of the Seelie Court. Silarial wants Roiben's throne, and she will use Kaye, and any means necessary, to get it. In this game of wits and weapons, can a pixie outplay a queen?

Holly Black spins a seductive tale at once achingly real and chillingly enchanted, set in a dangerous world where pleasure mingles with pain and nothing is exactly as it appears.

I enjoyed this sequel to Tithe a lot. In fact, I found myself more engaged in it than I did Tithe. The reason for that could have something to do with the fact that when I read Tithe, it was my first real foray into modern faerie tales, and so I wasn’t all that familiar with the genre at the time--or faerie folklore in general. Since reading Tithe, I’ve read more faerie stories, in particular teen faerie stories, and have become better acquainted with faerie mythology; therefore, I’m better able to understand the intricacies of a crafted faerie world, as I wasn’t before with Tithe. Perhaps that’s what made this a more interesting read for me. I’d have to actually re-read Tithe to see if this theory holds true, but either way, I thought Ironside was a very enjoyable book. I loved re-revisiting Kaye and Roiben, and I was completely swept away by the descriptions of Faerieland; of its beauty and its darkness, of its mythical inhabitants who are as cruel as they are beautiful. I was constantly turning the pages to see what lay in store for Kaye and her friends; what new treachery the Seelie queen, and her faeries, would come up with next to lay claim to the Unseelie throne. Corny played a big role in this novel too. I hadn’t really thought much of him in Tithe, but I liked the development his character underwent here. Black weaves her stories of magic and myth with the modern world well, making the magical world seem all the more real. My only real qualm is that I thought there could have been more resolution between Kaye and Roiben. There was resolution, but...they didn’t spend a whole lot of time together during the book, and so once the book was finished, I wasn’t left with a real sense of how the two would fare. Also, considering this is supposed to be the last book in this series, it would have been nice to know more about Kaye’s background--such as the identity of her parents, and of the person who originally sent her into the mortal world as a changeling, but none of that was addressed. Those who’ve read Black’s previous books know there’s some strong language in the stories as the characters drop the f-bomb occasionally, as well other profanities. I mention this because I know some may find that disturbing since it’s marketed towards teens, but the profanity isn’t used gratuitously; it suits the world the characters live in, and adds a bit of realism to the characters as a whole. Still, I'd recommend this for older teens. All in all, I thought this was a great follow up to Tithe, and a very enjoyable read.

4.5 out of 5.


Oooh, I'm glad you liked this!! I bought it and Big Momma took it from me before I could read it. LOL I think I'm gonna have to steal it back right now!

I have Tithes in my TBR pile, I'm totally moving this up...I didn't read your review as I didn't want to ruin anything but 4.5/5, yeah that's really good...=)

I have Tithe in my TBR pile too! I'll have to make it higher on the priority list!!!!

I thought Ironside was excellent as well; makes me wonder what Holly Black will do next. And I don't really see any problem with the cursing for teens of any age, personally. (Link to my review of Ironside in my name.)

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Since I was a little girl I have been fascinated with books. Early photos show me with a book in hand, even if it was not exactly my reading level... My first word was a made-up word meaning 'book', actually. I suppose I had my priorities at an early age... Over the years my interest in books has become one of the defining features of who I am as a person. You can probably call me a bookworm. While I have other interests, reading will always be the one I talk about the most, even if I am not focusing on it as much as I used to.