Thus far I can sum up the Iron Fey series in one word: Predictable. Sometimes, a little predictability is an okay thing. It doesn’t ruin a story or the audience’s enjoyment of it. However, it does ruin the overall story here in The Iron Daughter, which had its improvements on The Iron King but also ended up being worse in some areas. As I read through this book, whenever I stumbled on a scene with Ash and Meghan, all I could think is “Why?” Why do these two love each other as much as they do? Why is Meghan attracted to him, and he to her? And why, if Meghan loves him as much as she constantly proclaims, does she immediately assume the worst of him and shows no sign of actually trusting him on basic things? When she sees him surrounded by girls, she’s quick to assume he’s flirting with them instead of engaging in a friendly, basic conversation with them. (It doesn’t help that it’s proven later that the girls were hitting on him and trying to drag him away. Other women are not your enemy, Meghan, but I can see how you think that when the book has little to no good women characters in it besides you.) You either trust him or you don’t, and there can’t be love without trust. The romance is the biggest failing of The Iron Daughter. I simply don’t care about Meghan and Ash in the romantic sense. I may like them individually, but together, they’re so utterly boring and same old, same old, that I simply couldn’t bring myself to like them. I knew that, no matter what obstacles they faced, they’d end up together somehow. Scores of young adult paranormal romance books have taught me this. No matter what, the heroine will always end up with the hero. The Iron Daughter falls prey to that, and it’s a huge disservice to the book. I can get caught up in a great romance if it’s done well, but I was never fully convinced that Meghan and Ash were so in love with each other that they’d give up everything to be with each other. Moreover, I didn’t like the person Meghan became when she was with Ash; weepy and wallowing and utterly irritating. The world building is still very well done, and it makes up for some of the more disappointing aspects of the novel. That’s what’s so irritating about this series, though: I can see the great parts of it in the books, when Kagawa is describing the world and setting things up, but little things like Meghan’s very subtle disdain of other women and the romance drag it down considerably. There were a few bright spots in the book: Leanansidhe, an exiled queen who decides to help Meghan and the crew, was a fantastic character, and I’d love to see more of her in the next book if at all possible. She joins Grimalkin as one of my favourite characters from the series so far. There was a good chunk of the book, near the middle, when I actually thoroughly enjoyed myself. Coincidentally, this is when Ash left the picture entirely. I breezed through it, and when the possibility that Meghan or Puck would have to kill Ash due to plot contrivances, my interest shot far, far above what it was originally. It would have been an interesting plot twist, to kill off the main love interest in order to save someone else. It would really bring the actual risks of the war home and up close and personal to Meghan, a little more so than it was. But, predictably, Meghan finds a way to save Ash and so continues the annoyance. The Iron Daughter doesn’t take risks. Killing off Ash would have been a great risk and it would have done the story so much good. Instead, a secondary character that, yes, I’d grown to like but knew was a goner anyway, is killed off in a battle. The villains are laughable, one even descending into several monologues to give the characters time to attack or plan a way to win the battle. Sure, they’re a challenge for the characters at times, but not once was I ever really afraid of them. As with The Iron King, Meghan has moments of possibly discovering a new power but doing nothing to really dig into it or harness it until the very end, when she’s suddenly an all powerful woman who can take control of the power without any training beforehand and keep a steady hold on it until one of the other guys can save the day. It’s a safe book, staying very firmly in the lines of certain young adult tropes that bring books down, while also giving me a slight taste of depth and actual creativity before rushing back inside the lines. Because of this, I could predict everything before it happened: I knew who Charles really was in relation to Meghan, I knew how Meghan was going to save the day, and I knew that The Iron Daughter wouldn’t take any truly big risks to shake up the story or the characters even a tiny little bit. If you’re interested in a story about love conquering all and damn everything else, then this is a good book for that. However, as I said before, I can see the little flashes of brilliance that lie at the heart of this story, so when Kagawa retreats into doing things a hundred other young adult books have done before, it irritates me more than it would in another book that isn’t quite as brilliant. I’ll still read The Iron Queen just to see how things wrap up and because I am invested in one or two of the characters, but I’ll know not to expect too much.