Author: Karen Mahoney
Series: The Iron Witch #1
Published: February 2011 by Flux. January 2011 by Corgi
Length: 312 pages
Warnings: fantasy violence, 12+
Other info: The sequel, The Wood Queen, came out recently. The Stone Demon should come next year.
Summary : Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.
When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.
Review: Donna Underwood has iron tattoos over her hands and arms. Because of some magical thing has been performed, these give her supernatural strength. And now Wood Elves from the Land of Faerie are coming and Donna has to make a big, big choice.
We first find out that Donna’s father is dcead, and that Donna suffers from nightmares that may or may not shed light on how he died. It then switches perspective, to third person, and a party which her friend Navin forces Donna to. There she meets Xan, a mysterious boy with something not quite right about him. Then various things happen, involving alchemy, and faeries, and Donna has to choice between saving her best friend, or handing over something priceless.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was given this to read. So I just read it with an open mind.
Donna was your typical outcast heroine, with the very untypical tattoos that mark her as different, make her inhumanely strong and have given her many many questions. Xan, well, he wasn’t the normal love interest, taking into account the fact that he is, er, not entirely human, but he didn’t really capture my attention.
The plot developed at a nice pace, but the third person narrative didn’t work as well as it does in some books. I just didn’t connect at all with Donna, which would have been nice. It definitely picked up the more it went on, so if you can get past the first third, you’ll be alright.
The mix of paranormal things in this was great. Faeries and alchemists, well, they’re only the start of it. It’s also an unusal mix, but I loved it, because it’s different and new. I can’t wait to see if there’ll be any more creatures cropping up in later books. I also wish that the alchemy had gotten a little bit more prominence.
I’m not sure if this is good or bad, but the thing I lilked most was the author’s note. Seeing where Karen Mahoney got her inspiration from was fascinating, and it made me think about different mythologies that I’ve not really read or heard of. It’s added a lot to the list of things I should look up some day.
Overall: Strength 3 tea to a nice blend of magic and alchemy that you should read if you’re a fan of this kind of stuff.