Author: Karen Mahoney
Category: Young Adult
Page Count: 290
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Series: The Iron Witch #1
Challenge: 2011 DAC
Quick Rating: 3/5
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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.I really thought I would love this one. From the gorgeous covers, to hot faery boys, to alchemy, I thought this would be the book for me. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate it by any means, but I didn’t necessarily enjoy it either. It was just…incredibly average.
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.
Really, I think my main problem with The Iron Witch was that it was too short. It felt underdeveloped. And as much as I’ve been lamenting the fact that everything is a series now, I was actually glad to hear that there would be more. The world is very interesting, and I’d definitely like a more in-depth look into it all.
I loved the use of alchemy - probably my favorite feature of the entire book. While it’s made it appearances in other books, it’s still not commonly used, and I absolutely love the subject. The little tidbits scattered throughout were really intriguing, and it actually had to googling things to see what all the instruments Donna mentions actually were and what they looked like. I only wish we had seen more of it - but I’m hoping it will be a little more prevalent in later books.
I also found the Faerie realm fantastic too. The queen? Creeeepy. The wood elves were very twisted and dark, and not to mention the Skriker. The scene at the end with the Skriker, though short, was pretty B.A. But again, I just felt like we didn’t see enough of it. There’s no scope on the Faerie.
But if I’m being perfectly honest, the reason I didn’t like the book so much was actually the main character, Miss Donna Underwood. I just…couldn’t like her. Her voice wasn’t particularly irritating or anything, but she just felt so blank. I mean, her arms are covered in iron/silver tattoos, she has super strength, her father died defending her, her mother’s crazy, and she’s been taken out of school for “the Incident”. I was expecting feisty, angry, and maybe a little bent on vengeance. I mean, I’d want to learn everything I could about battling the dark fey that tore my family apart and almost killed me, wouldn’t you? But no, she mopes and whines about not having a normal life, and only occasionally visits her mentally addled mom. The only spark we get from her is when confronted the high school queen bee, and at the very end.
And while Xan, her main love interest, is definitely a swoon-worthy half-faerie with a dark past the scars to prove it, I didn’t really understand their draw. Donna is an alchemists, and alchemists do not like anything from Faerie is how I took it. Yet she just instantly trusts this boy above her own people, and says nothing to her superiors, or even her remaining family member. While I can see that there is maybe something a little shady going on with the alchemists, I didn’t understand her choice to not tell them anything when she finds out that (spoiler here!) the wood elves have been snatching people and taking their places all over town. Even taking the place of their best inventor! This means powerful wood elf magic - something the alchemists definitely should know about.
And seriously, can we give Donna the worst friend award? Navin (who is so obviously in love with her it’s ridiculous) is kidnapped by the elves, and on their way to go rescue him, she can’t stop daydreaming about Xan. Her best friend for most of her entire life has been kidnapped by nasty elves, held hostage, and may be undergoing unspeakable torture. But she’s daydreaming about kissing Xan, and has to snap herself back into concentrating on the emergency at hand. I’m not exactly sure if I’d like Donna watching my back in a crisis…
The Final Word: Overall, it was really the lack of depth and some silly choices on the main character’s behalf that really turned this book into an average read for me. While I’m not going to be rushing to read the sequel, I do plan to read it at some point. The premise is unique, but I’d just like to see a little more development.
Cover Thoughts: The first thing that drew me in, to be honest! It’s so dark and dramatic, and those silver spirals on her arms are beautiful.
Tea: I couldn’t resist once I found this one. Faerie Tea from White Magick Alchemy is beyond perfect for this. It’s a faerie tea, made by alchemists. Ha! (Ok, so maybe a little cliché and/or corny, but it was just too good to pass up when I found it. ;D)