The Iron Fey series was originally supposed to be a trilogy, with The Iron Queen as the last book. However, happily, there is now going to be a fourth book in the series. Something I was even more happy about as I reached the end of this book, because there are some many more stories to explore!
At the end of the previous novel, Meghan and Ash have both been exiled from the Nevernever for refusing to deny their love for each other. Trapped in the mortal world, Meghan wants nothing more than to return to her family with Ash at her side. The pair soon realizes just how impossible this is as scores of Iron fey are searching for Meghan. The false Iron King wants to take Meghan's power for himself, while the rebel Iron fey want to take Meghan to a safe hiding place. Meghan's journey eventually lead her back the Nevernever, where the Fey's last hope for their world is that Meghan can somehow manage to defeat the Iron King again.
The gap below is a spoiler-filled summary of the plot. Highlight the area to read.
The first part of the book is taken up with Meghan trying to get her memory of her father back. She and Ash steal a token from a graveyard to trade for her memory. With the memory returned, Grimalkin the cat takes the pair back to The Between and Leanansidhe. Once there, Meghan learns why her father Paul was taken (Titania was jealous of him and sought to have him killed. Puck went to Leanansidhe to ask her to save him.) Meghan is furious with Puck for a while because he knew what had happened to her father, had caused it, and never told her. The group negotiates Paul's release and housing at a cabin in The Between in exchange for the other token from the graveyard. At the cabin, Meghan spends time with her father while she tries to help him get his memory back. Ash also teaches Meghan to fight and Meghan asks him to become her knight- binding his life to hers. Eventually, a message is delivered from Oberon and Mab: they would lift the exile if the group returns to kill the Iron King. His territory is slowly taking over the Wildwood, and Meghan is the only one who can enter the Iron Kingdom unharmed. In the second half of the book, Meghan, Ash and Puck enter the Iron Kingdom to seek out and kill the false king. Ash and Puck are given special amulets from Mab to protect them form the poisoning influence of the Iron Realm. Meghan leads the way through the land, eventually taken the group to the tower of the Machina. The group allies themselves with Glitch and his gang of rebels and Meghan learns she can command the gremlins. The rebels are unwilling to face the Iron King because he is too powerful, but Meghan eventually convinces them to form a truce with Summer and Winter. Meghan, Ash and Puck find a way into the Iron Kings fortress and come face to face with the false king, who turns out to be Ferrum, the king of the packrats, and original Iron King before Machine came to power. With the strange hallucination-guidance from the Iron Power (who Meghan hears as Machina), Meghan finally learns to use both her glamours as once and therefore binding her Iron magic to her Summer magic. She then lets Ferrum attack her and gives some of her power to him, but because it is now bound to Summer, it kills him. Clinging to life, Meghan makes Ash take her back to the tree that killed Machina. Before sending the last of her power into the tree, Meghan releases Ash from his pledge as her knight, so he will not die alongside her, and orders him by his true name to leave her, so he will not be poisoned by the Iron Realm (because he amulet is destroyed). However, Meghan does not die. By giving the Iron Power to the land, she bound Iron and Summer together and the Iron land stopped it's advance on the Wildwood. The land, in turned healed Meghan and she became the Iron Queen. At the end of the book, Meghan goes home to tell her family all that's happened to her and how she must live in the Nevernever from now on. Ash and Puck come to a truce and go off in search of Grimalkin and the hope of finding a way to enter the Iron Realm without being poisoned.
The beginning of this book was a little slow and meandering for me, and end of is a little bittersweet, but once again I love this series. The ending doesn't bother me as much as it might were it truly the end of the series. As the conclusion to part 3, with part 4 on the way in November, I'm satisfied with what might be to come.