The last two books were the typical paranormal romance YA fare, with great world building and good writing that could have been a lot more if the story had been better. After a truly torturous read in The Iron Daughter, I went into The Iron Queen with very, very low expectations. Consider me very happily surprised. This book is good, and not simply because my expectations were low going in. This is what I’ve wanted from this series from the start, and now that I’ve got it, I couldn’t be happier. While I still don’t entirely buy Ash and Meghan as a couple (and likely never will), they were much more bearable in this book. The useless and irritating angst of the second book is gone, and while I initially feared that Kagawa would make a huge deal out of both of them wanting to have sex but not doing so for no good reason, she manages to deftly avoid making it seem silly and unneeded and instead a very natural part of the story. We aren’t beaten over the head with it, and there are enough scenes building up to the logical end of that particular subplot that I was happy with it, even if the timing of said event was hugely cliched and predictable. When I said The Iron Fey series of being predictable before, I meant it in a bad way. This book is predictable as well, but this time the predictability doesn’t ruin the story and Kagawa does actually keep me on edge about something near the end. I wasn’t certain of a character’s fate for once, and while it did end up the way I expected it to, the fact that she managed to have me worried at all is a huge step up from where we were in the second book, when I knew Ash wouldn’t be killed off so I never worried about it. While the pacing at times does seem a little fast--we cover a lot of days and events in a very short 350 page book--at the very least you aren’t bored while reading it. It does know when to slow down, but I do wonder if maybe it could have benefited from being just slightly longer, because the ending does feel a bit rushed. Some events do need a slight suspension of disbelief to get through, like how, after not even a month of training, Meghan is good enough at fighting to survive multiple battles with only a few scratches. But it was nice to finally see Meghan doing something other than sitting down and whining and needing Ash and Puck to protect her. Maybe that should have started happening in book two to make it more believable (and to have given her more time to learn how to fight properly), but at long as it happened at all I’m a happy camper. All the characters are finally bearable, and I was glad that they’d all grown up. Looking out over the series as a whole, I can see the development of them all, save for Puck, who seems to be still in the same basic place as he was in the beginning. Meghan herself is the most improved, as I was able to read through this entire book without rolling my eyes at her, which was a relief. It was great to see her finally come into her own. The last section is by far the greatest, and the point where I crossed from merely enjoying this book to actually truly loving it. The war scenes were great, and I actually teared up at points during the chapters. Instead of irritating me, the final scenes with Ash and Meghan were honestly heartbreaking. If the entire series had been as good as this book and that last section, The Iron Fey would have ended up becoming one of my favourite series. While it was still predictable and there were some little niggles at times, The Iron Queen is everything I’ve wanted from this series. I’m excited to start The Iron Knight and see how the particular part of the story ends.