Friday 14 January 2011

ARC Review: The Iron Witch - Karen Mahoney


That's what they call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood at Ironbridge High School.  A horrific fey attack that killed her father when she was just a child left Donna branded with iron tattoos that cover her hands and arms - and magically enhanced strength, that she does all she can to hide.

Now, after ten years of wishing for a normal life, Donna finally accepts her role in the centuries-old war against the darkest outcasts of Faerie - the dark elves.  Aided by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout, Donna must save her best friend's life - and that means betraying one of the world's greatest secrets and confronting the very thing that destroyed her family.

The Iron Witch is released in the UK on the 20th of January and in the US shortly afterwards.

The Iron Witch Series:
The Iron Witch
The Wood Queen
The Stone Demon

Check out Karen Mahoney's website for more information

As a child Donna and her father were attacked in Ironbridge woods by the fey, her father was killed and Donna was severely injured.  Having almost lost her arms Donna was given magical surgery by the alchemists (who her parents were both members of) and now her lower arms are covered with special iron tattoos that give her far more strength than any other girl of her age.  Wanting to be normal Donna keeps her arms hidden with long gloves but since an incident at her school she has been known as the "freak" by the other students.  Excluded from school she is now home schooled by the alchemists and the only normal thing in her life is her best (and only) friend Navin.

Navin has no clue about the fey creatures who inhabit the world alongside us and Donna has worked hard to keep him safe from that knowledge.  When he is captured by the wood elves Donna will do whatever it takes to bring him home, even it it means going against everything that the alchemists have ever taught her.

I have been looking forward to reading The Iron Witch since I first heard about it last year so I was incredibly excited when I received a review copy.  I'm happy to say that The Iron Witch is a fantastic story and the only thing I'm disappointed about is that I'm going to have to wait before I can read the sequel The Wood Queen!  I'm impressed that this is Karen Mahoney's debut novel and am sure we can look forward to great things from her in the future.

Donna is a great heroine, things have been tough for her and she struggles to fit in with the real world but she doesn't sit around feeling sorry for herself.  I think this is partly due to her friendship with Navin, the two of them are very close and I think she would have found things a lot harder to deal with without his support.  It was really nice to see such a strong friendship that wasn't based on romance and I loved reading about the two of them.  Donna has kept a lot of secrets from Nav, partly to protect him but also because she was afraid of how he would react if he found out the truth.  I really felt for her when circumstances forced her to tell him things she didn't want to involve him in but I loved how they remained so loyal to each other.  When Navin is captured by the wood elves Donna is determined to do anything to rescue him and this is where her inner strength really starts to shine through.

We are also introduced to Xan who Donna finds herself instantly attracted to (and who can blame her - he is HOT!).  I really liked the fact that although Donna and Xan feel drawn to each other they don't immediately jump into a full on relationship, in fact things between them are developing quite slowly and I was left looking forward to seeing this continue throughout the series.  Xan has his own secrets to keep and although we have learnt some of them by the end of the story I still believe there is a lot more than meets the eyes when it comes to his character.  He is definitely intriguing and I'm looking forward to getting to know him better.

When it comes to the story I really liked the world Karen Mahoney has created, there is a detailed and well thought out mythology when it comes to both the fey and the alchemists but this is introduced in a way that doesn't overwhelm you with too much information at any one time.  In fact I'm sure we still have plenty to learn as the series progresses and this is something I'm looking forward to.  I would highly recommend The Iron Witch to any fans of the YA urban fantasy genre and I can't wait to continue reading the series.

Source: Received from RHCB in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.


  1. I'm looking forward to reading this one! Glad to hear it lived up to your expectations :)

  2. Sounds great! I'm glad to learn about the book and the series.

  3. I didn't read it all cause I don't want to spoil it for myself but what I did read made me even more eager to read it.

  4. Ooh I am loving the sound of the mythology. I can't wait to read this one. I think I am going to wait to read a finished copy rather than read the ARC.

  5. @ Book Chick City - Hi Carolyn, I'm sure you'll enjoy this one. I'll look forward to reading your review!

    @ Joy - I hope you like it as much as I did, I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the series!

    @ Jess - I never like to read reviews of books that are on my to read pile either but I'm glad what you did read made you look forward to it even more. I'll look forward to seeing what you think of it :o)

    @ Becky - I've not read many faerie books to compare but I really liked the mythology of The Iron Witch. The friendships are fab too :o) I hope you enjoy it!



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