Michelle's Review: The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

ironwitch Trade Paperback: 289 pages
Publisher: Flux

Release Date: Feb. 8, 2011
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)

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.

Michelle's Review:
The Iron Witch is about a girl named Donna whose parents were part of this secret society of alchemists that, among other things, protects humans from the fey. When Donna was seven, she was taken by the wood elves. Besides her dad dying trying to save her and her mom never being right after that night, her arms were also severely injured. The only way to heal them was by magic and, as a result of that, Donna now has silver and iron tattoos branding her arms that she hides by wearing long gloves. Along with the unusual tattoos, she also has super strength. She has lived with her aunt ever since the attack and attended the local high school until recently when she was expelled after the mean girl got her mad and her temper got the better of her (super strength + a temper=bad combination). The only person keeping Donna's life from pretty much sucking all the time was her best and only friend Navin who didn't know about her past. Until she met Xan--a hot, half-faerie boy who understood her like no one else. Then, Navin was kidnapped by the same wood elves who took her when she was young. With Xan's help, can she save Navin in time?

The first thing that caught my interest about The Iron Witch was its gorgeous cover (and it looks even better in real-life). The blurb was interesting too and it reminded me of Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series. I was lucky enough to have received an early copy from the publisher but when reviews started popping up, they were mix. So, with trepidation and admittedly low expectations I began reading and you know what, it's not bad. I ended up enjoying it despite the few problems I had. I'm even excited for the next book in the series.

Donna was your typical young adult heroine--likable, brave yet impulsive, stubborn and falls in love at first sight. I would have preferred that the story was told in first person instead of third person limited through Donna. As for Xan, he was also likable and was surprisingly a nice guy (I wasn't expecting him to be nice when he was first introduced)--he stood by Donna without question. It was hinted that he has a dark past and he's still a bit of a mystery and I'm looking forward to knowing more about him in the next book. The other secondary characters like Maker, who worked on Donna's arm and make magical contraptions, have the potential to becoming more interesting in the next book. There may be a possible love triangle between Xan, Donna and Navin in the next book as well.

The main plot line in the book was the kidnapping and the rescue of Navin but that didn't actually happen until the last third of the book. For the most part, it was mostly back story about Donna's past and her and Xan talking about it. The two opposing sides of the conflict (the fey and the alchemists) were also introduced. However, like other reviewers, I thought the world building was never really realized. We sort of got to know where the fey was coming from but I wanted to know more about the alchemists, their secret society, their magic, what are they really up to--they were more interesting to me. I'm hoping we'll learn more about them in the next book.

The Iron Witch was a quick, easy read. It has an interesting premise and great ideas albeit not quite carried through. But if you're into faerie books and looking for your next read, you might want to look into this book. 3 out 5 stars


  1. I have been lusting after this cover like everyone else and am a bit disappointed that many of the reviews I have read including yours were less thrilled with the world building. I am glad to see that you are up for the sequel though. Thanks for the honest review!

  2. Sounds like it has potential. Really enjoyed your honest review there....adding to the wish list. Happy reading!


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