SUMMARY: Aoife Grayson must face death to win back Dean—the love who was ripped from the Iron Lands of the living when he was shot in the arctic north. But getting to the Deadlands is something that Aoife can't do on her own. And if she can find a way there, Tremaine would surely never allow it. He has sworn to keep her in the Thorn Lands, the fairie home of her mother, Nerissa. But Aoife is determined to find her way out. And she has no trouble if that means she has to kill Tremain and his queen to do it.
REVIEW: Overall, this is a solid book. The plot is simple and straightfoward at this point, but that is mostly because this is the third and final book in the series, and we know what has to be done for Aoife to right the turmoil she has caused in the worlds. What complicates my feelings about this book is that I fell so much in love with the first book my expectations for this book were that much higher, and unfortunately I didn't feel the same magic that I did with The Iron Thorn. One reason may be the length of the book. The Iron Thorn was almost 500 pages, and The Nightmare Garden was just over 400 pages, whereas this one is only 304 pages long. There wasn't nearly enough room in this book for the elaborate imagery and complexities of plot and character that The Iron Thorn gave us.
Aoife grew into the 'rebellious' child in The Nightmare Garden, which I could understand. It was a transition book, and Aoife was disillusioned with the world around her. She couldn't trust anybody but herself, so it was only natural for her to backtalk and sneak around behind even sane adults. In this book, she is wracked by guilt over the damage that she has inflicted on the world and her grief causes her to take great risks, jeopardizing her life and her relationships with the living for Dean. It was a conflicting experience watching Aoife go to hell and back for him. I understand her feelings and was delighted that there was a chance to bring Dean back; at the same time, he didn't die for her to place herself in greater dangers for his sake. On the other hand, it's really amazing to see how powerful her connection to him. It takes a seriously awesome guy for a girl to do what Aoife does to get him back (and he is seriously awesome)!
I enjoyed visiting the Deadlands with Aoife. It is such an interesting world and has some brilliant, unique characters, and I am sad that we didn't get to explore more of it. I also feel as though this book is less about character growth than about achieving a resolution to the greater plot, which is really disappointing because I loved the characters and there was so much potential for this world to be expanded. Nevertheless, while in the Deadlands, the stakes grow even higher and Aoife learns that there is more than her own life at risk (isn't there always?). Most of all, I appreciate how Aoife's relationship with her family has been resolved. I'm a family girl and love to see families patch things up. I also like how Aoife faces her fears and shows some maturity at the end, showing that she has learned from her mistakes and has grown into a stronger person, if a not yet fully matured adult. And that's what the YA genre is all about!
Learn more about the first two Iron Codex books here!
Enjoyed ImaginaryKris's review of The Mirrored Shard, or are curious about learning more about it? Chat with Caitlin Kittredge about it on her board this week!