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Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

Title: The Iron Witch
Author: Karen Mahoney
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 01/25/11
When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed Donna Underwood’s father and drove her mother mad. Her own nearly fatal injuries were fixed by alchemy -- the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. Now seventeen, Donna feels like a freak, doomed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. Only her relationship with her best friend, Navin, is keeping her sane.

But when vicious wood elves abduct Navin, Donna is forced to accept her role in the centuries-old war between human alchemists and these darkest outcasts of Faerie. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous guy with faery blood running through his veins and secrets of his own, Donna races to save Navin -- even if it means betraying everything her parents fought to the death to protect.

Plot: 3.5 Stars
My favorite part of this whole novel was the introduction to alchemy. It's a subject that I had not encountered yet, in either young adult or urban fantasy. It was a very interesting way of pulling magical elements into the story, but I wanted to learn more. Many parts of this novel felt like an introduction. Although the novel has a climax and resolution, there are still so many areas in which the story only scratched the surface. In a way, it's a tiny bit annoying. But mostly, it leaves me pining for the next novel in the series (which is definitely a good thing). I also liked the element of faerie brought into the story. There were elements to the fae that I had never encountered before, which made the lore very unique.

Pace: 4 Stars
This novel was a little on the shorter side, but it was just the right size for the story. It flew by without feeling rushed, and there were no parts that dragged on with too much information. Everything about the pacing and revealing of information was spot on. It kept me glued to the pages. There was a nice balance between the action and the detail in this novel. I was easily swept up into Donna's quest, rooting for her the entire time.

Characters: 4 Stars
Donna was a very strong character. She had her moments of melancholy, but considering her past, they were warranted. But she didn't let the past get her down. I liked that she didn't absolutely need to fit in. Her best friend, Navin, was my favorite character. He didn't have the biggest part, due to the plot, but I hope he shows up more in future books. Xan was interesting and mysterious, and I was glad he stuck around to help Donna. The members of the Order of the Dragon were smaller characters, but I hope we get to learn more about them as more of the alchemy is demonstrated and explained.

Cover: 4.5 Stars
This is such a gorgeous and thought provoking cover. Tattoos are often used as on covers very arbitrarily, but these tattoos were intricate, beautiful, and (best of all) relevant to the plot. The small bottle in the cover model's hand is also relevant, and the color really pops against the neutral colors that make up the rest of the cover. My favorite part of the cover is the pose of the cover model. Too many young adult novels include a cover model looking at the reader. I like that this cover model is hiding, covering her face. This leaves my imagination to picture Donna however it chooses to interpret the description given in the novel.

Overall: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I bought this book for my own enjoyment.


  1. If you enjoyed the alchemy aspect, you might want to check out A Discovery of Witches. I'm reading it now and the main character is an alchemy historian. Very good book so far =)

    I want to read The Iron Witch. I'm finding the alchemy interesting and I'm a huge fan of fae stories.

  2. Oooh, I want to read this book so bad! Thanks for the review!


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