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Review: The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

T h e  I r o n  W i t c h by Karen Mahoney
Release Date: 2/8/11 (US Edition)
Publisher: Flux
Age Group: Young Adult (13+)
Pages: 290
Source: Own/purchased
Challenge: 2011 Debut Author Challenge
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Word Blurb: Edgy, mystifying, and haunting!
"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."

THE IRON WITCH has the potential to be unabashedly mind-blowing, but failed to reach that level. For me, reading this book was like being this close to a boston creme doughnut, only to have it snatched out of reach. Almost there, but no cigar if you catch my meaning... The characters are elaborate, fleshed out people but in all the 200-something pages, I didn't see as much of the side characters as I'd've liked. The plot has a deep mystery looming over it, but remains only marginally unearthed by the end. And the story, while engaging, has a slower pace than I usually like, preventing me from really becoming absorbed.

And it ticks me off, that I feel this way, considering all the amazing things it has going for it besides. Like the fact that I really like Donna Underwood, for starters. She doesn't seem to be tough, but is, and though she has some serious heart-scars, she is an overall endearing and kind girl. Her strength, both internally and physically, is astounding, and those beautiful alchemical tattoos on both her arms and hands make her a fascinating heroine. But, when did this girl really get to shine? Sure, there are a couple of times where her physical strengths are displayed, and toward the end, the extent of her power is slightly revealed. But, I feel like I've just barely scratched the surface with not only Donna, but Navin and Xan, two of the most important people in her life, as well.

I'm really loving Xan! And I have a soft spot for Navin. Though, again, I didn't feel like I got too much time with them. I feel as if there's way more to Xan than what's being let on, and Navin is this totally hilarious person, a best friend to Donna, and yet even his involvement in the story is limited. What the heck is up with that?

Plus, there's the compelling alchemy side of the whole thing. Not to mention the freaky paranormal aspect that involves these scary-looking dark elves! If anything, it adds to the appeal of the book. But, it doesn't substantiate the book, the experience of reading it, as well as it should have. It was intriguing to read about these woodland dark elves lurking about, and the magic and history of the alchemists, yet it doesn't help fulfill the storyline. It adds to the mystery, for sure, but so little is unveiled about this side of the plot, including Donna's entanglement with it, that it failed to hold my attention for long. Which is sad, considering how cool it was.

My main problem with this story, summed up in a few words, comes down to my needing more. I needed more action, a smidgen more romance, and more mystery-unconvering. And because it lacked in these areas, I couldn't enjoy it, couldn't like it as much as I wanted to. Despite that, however, I'm still going to be on the lookout for the ensuing installments... Hopefully I'll enjoy them more.

Xan + Donna = super heart!

"When Donna turned up the walk to her aunt's house, she didn't get very far. Xan was still holding on to her.
'What's wrong?' She examined his face with concern.
His lips quirked and she had the feeling he might be teasing her. 'Didn't you forget something?' he asked.
Donna frowned. 'Um, I don't think so?'
...His fingers were still curled lightly around her wrist. She glanced down as he tugged her toward him, and she took a couple of stumbling steps forward. Her free hand came up to brace herself against his chest. Her heart was pounding so hard she thought she could feel the echo all the way down to her toes. All she could see were Xan's eyes--they looked otherworldly as they glittered under the streetlight..." (165 | 290).

Thanks for reading! And happy blogging!


Small Review said...

Ugh, this is exactly how I felt about Warped. So close to great, but just needed a little more. I'm struggling to write my review, but you've done an excellent job here at getting across those feelings. I know just what you mean.

A. Knight said...

Small Review-- And here I thought I was the only one. So many people seem to love, love, love this book and yet, it wasn't all that in a bag of chips... You know? I haven't read Warped yet, and it sounds good. I'm going to have to check it out for myself.

Logan E. Turner said...

That is so frustrating. I hate when a book feels so close and yet just can't get there. GRR! I hope I can still enjoy this one.

A. Knight said...

Logan-- You're telling me... And it's still enjoyable...