The Iron Queen by Julie KagawaThe Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Queen

byJulie Kagawa

Paperback | January 25, 2011

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The New York Times Bestseller
My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.

Don't miss the first book in Julie Kagawa's highly anticipated new series, TALON, AVAILABLE OCTOBER 28, 2014
Julie Kagawa was born in Sacramento, California on October 12, 1982. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked in bookstores and as a dog trainer. Her books include The Iron Fey series, The Iron Legends, The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten series, and The Talon Saga.
Title:The Iron QueenFormat:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 8.25 × 5.38 × 1.02 inPublished:January 25, 2011Publisher:HarlequinLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0373210183

ISBN - 13:9780373210183

Appropriate for ages: 14 - 17

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fast Paced, Action Packed THE IRON QUEEN, this book was on a challenge list I am participating in....well before I started I thought that I must read THE IRON KING and THE IRON DAUGHTER. So I piled up the three books settled down and started to read. And I have to say I fell in love with this series. Julie Kagawa does an amazing job describing the fey world, she paints such a picture that you can see it so vividly. I enjoyed the characters, and watching their development through-out the series. The books are action-packed, fast paced, and full of surprises. I would recommend this series to all, for me it was a breathless adventure.
Date published: 2017-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book! I love this whole series. This book did not disappoint!
Date published: 2017-08-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from And we make our way to an end Here ends the story of Megan's adventures. It's amazing and fun till the end filled with clever dialog and a world one can get lost in.
Date published: 2017-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Iron Queen I love fantasy romance and this book is no exception. An interesting fantasy world.
Date published: 2017-06-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Iron Fey a good read, worth picking up
Date published: 2017-06-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from amazing A great continuation of a fantastical series
Date published: 2017-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic book! Really loved this book as there was a satisfying ending for Meghan! Although it was a bit predictable I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Date published: 2017-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Conclusion Really liked how this ended off.
Date published: 2017-03-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book Such a good way to end Meghan's story. Good series to read if you like fantasy books. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome! Another stellar book in this amazing series. I love how unique and action-packed everything is, and who can't get addicted to Ash? Such a great series, I need more of it after that ending!
Date published: 2017-01-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It Was Ok I enjoyed it, just not as much as the first two.
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read! Love this series, characters are great!
Date published: 2016-11-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Iron Queen Kagawa returns to the world of the Nevernever with the same approachable, larger than life writing style we’ve come to know and love her for. I enjoyed how Kagawa simultaneously recaps key points up to this point in the series while forwarding the current storyline. The irony in this story is riveting. I liked how the book is divided into parts based on what’s going on at the time. Each part is like a story on its own and they all tie together into something fantastic. The first person narrative makes you feel like you’re really there, experiencing this all alongside the characters. It also lets readers get up close and personal with Meghan. I felt really close to her by the end of the story. I also found that I understood Ash & Puck much better after this journey with them. I love Grimm’s mysterious yet straightforward manner. Every time he says something it’s vital to the characters, yet he’s also so aloof. This series just keeps getting better. This novel is definitely more intense and magical than the last, leaving my dying to continue this series that I’d recommend to YA fantasy lovers of all ages.
Date published: 2014-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Iron queen. Couldn't put the book down! So love ash and puck, and of course grim.
Date published: 2014-02-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Iron queen. Good quick read, you defiantly get sucked into the faery world!
Date published: 2014-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Iron queen. I love the book series but this is probably one of my favorites because the emotion and the characters in the book are just so intense that I get right into the books.
Date published: 2013-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Love these books.
Date published: 2013-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 5 SMILEY FACES FOR THIS BOOK! :) I just recently bought this book and fell in LOVE! It has a brilliant finale and is filled with twists and turns. A truly awesome book and would suggest it for anyone. Buy this book! It is truly a masterpiece.
Date published: 2013-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome All of the iron fey series were spectacular reads, but this was the best . You get lost in this fantasy world and wish you were a fairy.
Date published: 2013-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Tear... Too many FEELS!
Date published: 2013-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mind blown The series keeps getting better and better!
Date published: 2013-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great series Awesome read, so addicting
Date published: 2013-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great! Another fantastic read in this series! An addicting love story that's hard to put down.
Date published: 2013-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Brilliant Finale Before you go saying that there's another book in the series - yes, I am aware that there is. But technically, the Iron Knight is in addition to her Iron Fey Trilogy, which means it wasn't meant to be there in the first place! Hence the feeling of a conclusion in the ending of this book. :) Now, I can successfully report that Meghan DEFINITELY did her share of growing up in this book. So proud of you, Meghan! :') I am very proud and very, VERY happy with her character development throughout Kagawa's books. Meghan bloomed from a small, meek, weak - and rather pathetic - character, and developed into someone that people draw strength from, as apposed to her needing to draw strength from others. As you all know, Grimalkin is my absolute FAVORITE character in this entire series... And I literally let out a fan-girl squeal when I read the last line in this epic book. Is it possible to fan-girl over a cat? Is that a normal thing to do? Through EVERY book in this series, I would always be anxiously awaiting the arrival of Grimalkin, and my heart would always pick up in pace with the excitement of having him back in the story. There is nothing better than the Cait Sith. Why? Because he's a cat... Duh. I would also like to mention that I never got tired of reading Kagawa's series straight through from beginning to end. Not once did I ever think "God, I could really go for something non-fey right now." In fact, after finishing this amazing book, I am currently staring at my copy of The Iron Knight and nearly dying with excitement to read it. This is by far the best book in the Iron Fey series and I am so glad that I took the time to re-read this lovely piece of work.
Date published: 2012-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from NEW FAV! I understand now why everyone is so in love with these books. I know now, because you can add my name to the list. I don’t know how she does it, but Julie Kagawa had me hooked throughout the entire book. This book begins with Ash and Meghan, both whom are exiled from the Nevernever. Content with being with each other decide to figure things out slowly. But of course, trouble always follows Meghan. When she decides to go back to her home in the real world, she is greeted by Iron Fey who seek to bring her to the new Iron King. After defeating them, Meghan and Ash realize that even though they are banished, they still have a duty to fulfil. The false Iron King is after Meghan. He wants her powers that she had stolen from the previous Iron King, Machina. Ash decides it is a good idea to teach Meghan how to fight since he can't protect every second of her life. Meghan is more than willing to learn. The battle between the Iron Kingdom and the Faerie kingdom is a big one. I normally hate when authors fly through the most exciting parts but that is not what Julie did. She wrote out every detail of the battle and I wished I could read faster since I didn’t want to skip any detail but I wanted to know the outcome. I won't lie… my heart broke at the ending and I was sad but some things were for the best. I can't wait to read the next book to find out how it all turns out. Also, the last book is in Ash’s point of view! Here I go!
Date published: 2012-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from i give this book a 10 thubs up this book took longer then the other for me to read it was good i got to see megs and ashs realationship grow and they finly do it lol but the end was kinda sad but it was awsome
Date published: 2011-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gripping Third Installment I just tore through this book - the exciting third installment of the Iron Fey series. Kagawa continues with her amazing world building, something I love so much. The Nevernever that she creates is so fun, strange and familiar at the same time. There is a great mix of the faery tales we all know and love and new additions. The back story from the other two books was presented really well, probably even better than in the second book. Again this book is full of action, adventure, romance, heartbreak, friendship and twists. I love Meghan's growth, she becomes stronger and more capable, not needing to be saved all of the time (yeah!). She even recognizes this herself when she asks Ash to teach her to fight and takes an active part in the battles. This shows huge development on her part. I have to say that Meghan's conviction that her dad, the one who brought her up, the one she thought of as dad her whole life, is her real father and not Oberon, her biological father who she never knew anything about, made me happy. As someone sensitive to adoption issues, I was pleased to see this, that your dad is the one who is there for you. I didn't want to see Meghan abandon her family just because a biological father came out of the woodwork. I still enjoy the interaction between Puck and Ash - they are such great foils for each other. I like both of these characters, along with Grim the cat, and can't wait to read more about them. Puck particularly adds some great humour to the book. This book still saw its fair share of typical teenaged misunderstandings and overreactions. As much as these things drive me crazy on one level because, as a reader I know more, I appreciate that Kagawa is being true to teenaged reactions. There are also times when Meghan is a bit slow to grasp the bigger picture or implications of things, but that is probably typical too. As with the other books, there are great explorations of nature vs technology, happy endings vs not so happy endings, and summer vs winter. I find this fun to read and it adds an interesting dimension to the book. I highly recommend this book, especially if you have read the other two.
Date published: 2011-11-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A thrilling adrenaline rush! This review courtesy of Christa's Hooked on Books ( Meghan and Ash have been banished from the Nevernever. They have given up their families and their titles in order that they can be together. It won't be easy but as far as they're concerned it's worth it. But even in the real world they're not safe from the Iron Fey. Their power and ambition grows every day and it seems like nothing can stop them. Despite their banishment Ash and Meghan are drawn into a war that has shaken the Nevernever to it's very core. A war that threatens to ruin everything. This is the last chance to stop the Iron Fey before they destroy Summer and Winter forever. Though I have loved all the books in the Iron Fey series I think the Iron Queen is my favourite. The first book was an introduction to the amazing world of the fey. The second book allowed us to really get to know (and love) Ash and Meghan but this third book is where the action is! There are some epic confrontations and battles in this book and it easy to get swept away in the excitement. As always Julie Kagawa provides us with an all star cast of characters. They're all so lovable in their own ways. Their interaction is believable and enjoyable. Even when arguing amongst themselves it is obvious these characters were written to go together. They're like parts of a puzzle and they all nicely fit together. I think it makes the story that much more enjoyable that all the characters get along so well and that there are no secondary characters that don't need to be there and distract from those that are important. A thrilling adrenaline rush of book the Iron Queen is an exciting fantasy read. All other books in the series have been bringing you to this point, to this climax – and it delivers. Whether you're Team Ash or Team Puck (Or Team Meghan!) doesn't matter. All differences are set aside for the greater good of saving the Nevernever and preserving the magic of the world of the fey. Action, adventure, fantasy, humour and a dash of romance. What's not to love?
Date published: 2011-09-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I've Read Better The first book disappointed me. The second book was easier to read through. The third book just felt like a drag on. The beginning goes through lovey-dovey stuff between Ash and Meghan because they've been exiled from Faerie. This truly changed the macho facade the author lead Ash to be. I found Meghan relied on Ash too much and for the third time, I felt no emotion from them. The author failed to portray that in all three novels, in my opinion. So finally, Mab and Oberon decide they need Meghan and Ash to protect Faerie from the iron fey so they remove their exile and allow them to return only if they protect their world. I found this book quite predictable. I liked Glitch's loyalty although I already had a feeling on who the false king was going to be and I was right. Meghan's sudden death was over-exaggerated and she clearly was not going to die. What I did not like was the ending; I liked that she was the new Queen for the iron fey but I did not like that she had to leave Ash behind. After working so hard for their love, she didn't even think twice about being with him again. I know that in the next installment, Ash and Puck will look for something that will make them immune to iron since that's what Julie Kagawa implied during the end. I will read it in hopes of it being better than the first three. I don't know why I found myself continuing to read these books when I am so disappointed in them but I guess it's just because I want to like them since the Nevernever is truly mesmerizing and I absolutely adore Puck.
Date published: 2011-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED This Book! LOVE This Series! I didn't think it was possible that I would love this installment more than the previous two... but I was proven wrong. Julie Kagawa is an author unlike no other. I am always stunned as she manages to create a world that is so incredibly vivid. Everything seems to play out before you; whether it's a wicked action scene, or a gorgeous description of Nevernever, I am in awe. The characters are like no other in this book, seriously. What could possibly be better than a talking cat alongside a brave girl, an icy prince and a sarcastic fellow? These characters are apart of an adventure that is like no other, and this third installment was NO disappointment. I could not stop reading this book! I was swept away as the action got more intense by the second. The pace of this book was unbelievable, from the moment I started, there was no way I was closing way. Megan, Ash and Puck are still banished from Nevernever after their adventure ended in The Iron Daughter. I was so pumped to see them all back together again, but I was waiting for the adventure to rise up...and it did. Turns out that back in Nevernever, the new Iron King is slowly spreading his power. This spread is like a deadly poison spreading onto Nevernever's land. Fey are dying, and hope seems to be slipping away. It isn't a pleasant sight, and it looks as if Mab and Oberon know what they need in order to fight the false King. Looks like the key to destroying the reign of the false King is Megan. If her, Ash and Puck are able to defeat him, their banishment will be forgotten. This is an adventure like no other. Megan, along with those to help her have to do whatever they can to venture over to the false King's territory to end all power and control. Along the way, Megan meets new people, searches for a lost memory and discovers more about herself. Relationships are tested, and choices have to be made... Kagawa did not disappoint with this book let me tell you, it was everything I could have asked for. Aside from the action and plot, I loved how things developed in this book. Megan changes, becomes stronger and even braver. Each book has shaped her identity and I felt that in this book, she really shined. Her and Ash were just breathtaking together in this book as well, their romance is indescribable and seems so effortless. I see them as two puzzle pieces that just fit together so....right. Their love for each is crazy; they are so loyal to each other, and I feel that they make one another braver in a sense. Overall, i just loved this book, and after the CRAZY cliffhanger that ended this book, I am so, so anxious to read The Iron Prince to see Ash's point of view. I need to know what happens next! 5/5 2011-021
Date published: 2011-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Iron Queen The Iron Queen is just as incredible as the first two novels. So much happened in this book I don’t even know where to start. This was, without a doubt, the most action packed of the series. I have never read anything quite like it, the many intense battle scenes amazed me; they were so descriptive and exciting! Julie Kagawa really knows how to create an amazing world. Almost everything was doubled in this book, there was more action, romance, adventure and humor than the previous novels. Meghan has developed and matured so much since the first novel. She is much more brave and strong than at the beginning of her adventure. I definitely recommend this series; it is a favorite of mine and I cannot wait for the fourth novel, The Iron Knight, which is told in Ash’s perspective!
Date published: 2011-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from P.E.R.F.E.C.T.I.O.N. in EPIC proportions! Julie Kagawa is a master story teller. She has the ability to paint the scene with her words and describe the characters so richly, it's like a movie is playing in my head as I read. Julie brilliantly orchestrated the perfect faerie story with a modern twist. It will touch on every raw emotion you have so be ready for a very emotional roller coaster ride. The Iron Queen starts off with a bang and keeps a full pace throughout. Meghan and Ash have been exiled to the mortal world. Meghan is, in her mind, planning her future in the mortal realm after some rather life-altering events that took place in the previous books. However, this book proves that those thoughts were futile from the very beginning. Meghan's destiny is anything but to go back to being ordinarily human. Meghan has to be my favourite heroine/protagonist EVER! She is tough yet vulnerable. Her character develops and matures in a believable yet dramatic way. She's not perfect, and still tends to revert back to her 17 year old idiocies at times, but that grounds her, in my mind. But when the chips are down... she's got plenty of courage and determination to fulfill what she sets out to do. She sacrafices so much for the greater good... that's a huge part of her character and is so very integral to the story... it's all about sacrafice for those she loves. What I also adored about Meghan is that she is the sort of person who just brings out the best in everyone around her. You can't help but want to be her friend. I still have a real soft spot for Puck. He, of course, has to be where Meghan is...old habits die hard.... and so we find out that he has chosen to live in exile as well. Puck continues with his sharp wit, but... and I've heard this mentioned by a few people so I will say the same... there is a bit of a bitter edge to him now. It's a tough pill for him to swallow, seeing Meghan and Ash together... happy. My heart really goes out to him. And Ash... oh where do I begin?? Meghan has grown by leaps and bounds since the beginning of this series... but perhaps the most astonishing transformation is in Ash. The former prince of the Unseelie Court sheds several layers of his icey facade and displays what has been hiding behind his mask, and it reveals a wonderful hero. In The Iron Queen, we learn a lot about Ash's background, and why he puts up that blank mask -- for protection -- both for his heart and from the Winter Court. It's heart-warming that it is Meghan who touches his heart and brings out the real Ash. Ash hit all the right buttons for me. He was fiercely protective of Meghan, yet tough on her too... for example, when she asked Ash to teach her to fight. He was not gentle with her. He loved her enough to teach her to fight for real... with skill, instincts and cunning, which in turn, also boosted her confidence, and helped make her a stronger person all around. Ash is the epitome of the perfect "knight in shining armour"... literally. In my eyes, he is the perfect love interest, leading man, hero. There is nothing I don't love about him. Grimalkin is back... popping in and out as required...always in time to save their butts, along with his infamous retort when asked to explain things, "I am a cat". We meet some "friendly" Iron Fey, Glitch, Razor (I LOOOOVE Razor!!), and some of Iron Horses's kin. All the characters, good and bad, come alive... no one is superfluous... each has a purpose, and are rich and dimensional. Each and every character pulls some sort of emotion out of you. Julie made me care so much for all of them. There is TONS of action sequences and surprises with just enough "I knew it" tidbits thrown in to make you clap to yourself! And with Meghan and Ash, there is NO shortage of romance. *sigh*... beautifully written and perfectly balanced. I will not give the ending away... but I will say that it literally left me emotionally drained. This story sat with me for a very long time afterwards. That's how I know it was so good... it leaves an impression that doesn't easily fade away. And regarding the ending... THANK GOD I knew ahead of time that there will be a fourth book in this series, The Iron Knight!!! I tell you honestly... if you haven't started this series yet... YOU HAVE TO... RIGHT NOW!! This is EPIC... PHENOMENAL! Well done, Julie K! Well done! And I still say... if I could give it a hundred stars, I would! ;)
Date published: 2011-02-05

Read from the Book

Eleven years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared.One year ago, on the very same day, my brother was taken from me, as well. But that time, I went into Faery to take him back.It's strange how a journey can change you, what you can learn from it. I learned that the man I thought was my father wasn't my father at all. That my biological dad wasn't even human. That I was the half-breed daughter of a legendary faery king, and his blood flowed in my veins. I learned that I had power, a power that scares me, even now. A power that even the fey dread, something that can destroy them—and I'm not sure I can control it.I learned that love can transcend race and time, and that it can be beautiful and perfect and worth fighting for but also fragile and heartbreaking, and sometimes sacrifice is necessary. That sometimes it's you against the world, and there are no easy answers. That you have to know when to hold onand when to let go. And even if that love comes back, you could discover something in someone else who has been there all along.I thought it was over. I thought my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices for those I loved, was behind me. But a storm was approaching, one that would test those choices like never before. And this time, there would be no turning back.My name is Meghan Chase.In less than twenty-four hours, I'll be seventeen.Déjà vu, right? Shocking how quickly time can pass you by, like you're standing still. I can't believe it's been a year since that day. The day I went into Faery. The day that changed my life forever.Technically, I won't actually be turning seventeen. I've been in the Nevernever too long. When you're in Faery, you don't age, or you age so slowly it's not worth mentioning. So, while a year has passed in the real world, I'm probably only a few days older than when I went in.In real life, I've changed so much I don't even recognize myself.Beneath me, the tatter-colt's hooves clopped against the pavement, a quiet rhythm that matched my own heartbeat. On this lonely stretch of Louisiana highway, surrounded by tupelo trees and moss-covered cypress, few cars passed us, and the ones that did flew by without slowing down, tossing leaves in their wake. They couldn't see the shaggy black horse with eyes like hot coals, walking along the road without reins or bit or saddle. They couldn't see the figures on its back, the pale-haired girl and the dark, beautiful prince behind her, his arms around her waist. Mortals were blind to the world of Faery, a world I was a part of now, whether I'd asked for it or not."What are you afraid of?" a deep voice murmured in my ear, sending a shiver up my spine. Even in the humid swamps of Louisiana, the Winter prince radiated cold, and his breath was wonderfully cool against my skin.I peered at him over my shoulder. "What do you mean?"Ash, prince of the Unseelie Court, met my gaze, silver eyes gleaming in the twilight. Officially, he was no longer a prince. Queen Mab had exiled him from the Nevernever after he refused to renounce his love for the half-human daughter of Oberon, the Summer King. My father. Summer and Winter were supposed to be enemies. We were not supposed to cooperate, we were not supposed to go on quests together and, most important, we were not supposed to fall in love.But we had, and now Ash was here, with me. We were exiles, and the trods—the paths into Faery—were closed to us forever, but I didn't care. I wasn't planning to ever go back."You're nervous." Ash's hand stroked the back of my head, brushing the hair from my neck, making me shiver. "I can feel it. You have this anxious, flickering aura all around you, and it's driving me a little nuts, being this close. What's wrong?"I should've known. There was no hiding what I felt from Ash, or any faery for that matter. Their magic, their glamour, came from human dreams and emotions. So Ash could sense what I was feeling without even trying. "Sorry," I told him. "I guess I am a little nervous.""Why?""Why? I've been gone almost a year. Mom will hit the roof when she sees me." My stomach squirmed as I imagined the reunion: the tears, the angry relief, the inevitable questions. "They didn't hear anything from me while I was in Faery." I sighed, gazing up the road to where the stretch of pavement melted into the darkness. "What am I going to tell them? How will I even begin to explain?"The tatter-colt snorted and pinned its ears at a truck that roared by, passing uncomfortably close. I couldn't be sure, but it looked like Luke's battered old Ford, rattling down the road and vanishing around a curve. If it was my stepdad, he definitely wouldn't have seen us; he'd had a hard time remembering my name even when I'd lived in the same house."You tell them the truth," Ash said, startling me. I wasn't expecting him to answer. "From the beginning. Either they accept it, or they don't, but you can't hide who you are, especially from your family. Best to get it over with—we can deal with whatever happens after."His candor surprised me. I was still getting used to this new Ash, this faery who talked and smiled instead of hiding behind an icy wall of indifference. Ever since we were banished from the Nevernever, he'd been more open, less brooding and angst-ridden, as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. True, he was still quiet and solemn by anyone's standards, but for the first time, I felt I was finally getting a glimpse of the Ash I knew was there all along."But what if they can't deal with it?" I muttered, voicing the concern that had been plaguing me all morning. "What if they see what I am and freak out? What if they don't want me anymore?"I trailed off at the end, knowing I sounded like a sullen five-year-old. But Ash's hold on me tightened, and he pulled me closer against him."Then you'll be an orphan, just like me," he said. "And we'll find a way to get by." His lips brushed against my ear, tying my stomach into about a dozen knots. "Together."My breath hitched, and I turned my head to kiss him, reaching back to run my hand through his silky dark hair.The tatter-colt snorted and bucked midstep, not enough to throw me off, but enough to bounce me a few inches straight up. I snatched wildly for its mane as Ash grabbed my waist, keeping me from falling off. Heart pounding, I shot a glare between the tatter-colt's ears, resisting the urge to kick it in the ribs and give it another excuse to buck me off. It raised its head and glared back at us, eyes glowing crimson, disgust written plainly on its equine face.I wrinkled my nose at it. "Oh, excuse me, are we making you uncomfortable?" I asked sarcastically, and it snorted. "Fine. We'll behave."Ash chuckled but didn't attempt to pull me back. I sighed and gazed at the road over the colt's bobbing head, looking for familiar landmarks. My heart leaped when I saw a rusty van sitting in the trees off the side of the road, so ancient and corroded a tree had grown through the roof. It had been there for as long as I could remember, and I saw it every day on the bus to and from school. It always told me when I was nearly home.It seemed so long ago, now—a lifetime ago—that I'd sat on the bus with my friend Robbie, when all I had to worry about was grades and homework and getting my driver's permit. So much had changed; it would feel strange returning to school and my old, mundane life like nothing had happened. "I'll probably have to repeat a year," I sighed, and felt Ash's puzzled gaze on my neck. Of course, being an immortal faery, he didn't have to worry about school and licenses and—I stopped as reality seemed to descend on me all at once. My time in the Nevernever was like a dream, hazy and ethereal, but we were back in the real world now. Where I had to worry about homework and grades and getting into college. I'd wanted to get a summer job and save up for a car. I'd wanted to attend ITT Tech after high school, maybe move to the Baton Rouge or New Orleans campuses when I graduated. Could I still do that? Even after everything that happened? And where would a dark, exiled faery prince fit into all of this?"What is it?" Ash's breath tickled the back of my ear, making me shiver.I took a deep breath. "How is this going to work, Ash?" I half turned to face him. "Where will we be a year from now, two years from now? I can't stay here forever—sooner or later, I'm going to have to get on with my life. School, work, college someday" I broke off and looked down at my hands. "I have to move on eventually, but I don't want to do any of those things without you.""I've been thinking about that," Ash replied. I glanced up at him, and he surprised me with a brief smile. "You have your whole life ahead of you. It makes sense that you should plan for the future. And I figure, Goodfellow pretended to be mortal for sixteen years. There's no reason I can't do the same."I blinked at him. "Really?"He touched my cheek softly, his eyes intense as they gazed into mine. "You might have to teach me a little about the human world, but I'm willing to learn if it means being close to you." He smiled again, a wry quirk of his lips. "I'm sure I can adapt to 'being human,' if I must. If you want me to attend classes as a student, I can do that. If you want to move to a large city to pursue your dreams, I will follow. And if, someday, you wish to be married in a white gown and make this official in human eyes, I'm willing to do that, too." He leaned in, close enough for me to see my reflection in his silver gaze. "For better or worse, I'm afraid you're stuck with me now."I felt breathless, not knowing what to say. I wanted to thank him, but those words didn't mean the same in faery terms. I wanted to lean in the rest of the way and kiss him, but the tatter-colt would probably throw me into the ditch if I tried. "Ash," I began, but was saved a response as the tatter-colt abruptly came to a full stop at the end of a long gravel driveway that stretched away over a short rise. A familiar green mailbox balanced precariously on its post at the end of the drive, faded with age and time, but I had no trouble reading it, even in the darkness.Chase. 14202My heart stood still. I was home.I slid off the tatter-colt's back and stumbled as I hit the ground, my legs feeling weird and shaky after being on horseback for so long. Ash dismounted with ease, murmuring something to the tatter-colt, which snorted, threw up its head and bounded into the darkness. In seconds, it had disappeared.I gazed up the long gravel road, my heart pounding in my chest. Home and family waited just beyond that rise: the old green farmhouse with paint peeling off the wood, the pig barns out back through the mud, Luke's truck and Mom's station wagon in the driveway.Ash moved up beside me, making no noise on the rocks. "Are you ready?"No, I wasn't. I peered into the darkness where the tatter-colt had vanished instead. "What happened to our ride?" I asked, to distract myself from what I had to do. "What did you say to it?""I told him the favor has been paid and that we're even now." For some reason, this seemed to amuse him; he gazed after the colt with a faint smile on his lips. "It appears I can't order them around like I used to. I'll have to rely on calling in favors from now on.""Is that bad?"The smile twitched into a smirk. "A lot of people owe me." When I still hesitated, he nodded toward the driveway. "Go on. Your family is waiting.""What about you?""It's probably better if you go alone this time." A flicker of regret passed through his eyes, and he gave me a pained smile. "I don't think your brother would be happy to see me again.""But—""I'll be close." He reached out and tucked a strand of hair behind my ears. "Promise."I sighed and gazed up the driveway once more. "All right," I muttered, steeling myself for the inevitable. "Here goes nothing."I took three steps, feeling the gravel crunch under my feet, and glanced over my shoulder. The empty road mocked me, the breeze stirring up leaves in the spot Ash had been. Typical faery. I shook my head and continued my solitary trek up the driveway.It wasn't long before I reached the top of the rise, and there, in all its rustic glory, was the house I'd lived in for ten years. I could see lights on in the window, and my family moving about in the kitchen. There was Mom's slender frame, bent over the sink, and Luke in his faded overalls, putting a stack of dirty plates on the counter. And if I squinted hard enough, I could just see the top of Ethan's curly head, poking over the kitchen table.Tears pricked my eyes. After a year of being away, fighting faeries, discovering who I was, cheating death more times than I cared to remember, I was finally home."Isn't that precious," a voice hissed.I spun, looking around wildly."Up here, princess."I looked straight up, and my vision was filled with a thin, shimmering net an instant before it struck me and sent me tumbling back. Cursing, I thrashed and tore at the threads, trying to rip through the flimsy barrier. Stinging pain made me gasp. Blood streamed down my hands, and I squinted at the threads. The net was actually made of fine, flexible wire, and my struggles had sliced my fingers open.