Monday, 19 December 2011

Review: The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

A huge thank you to Harriet at Random House Children's Books for sending me a copy to review.
The review is my own honest opinion on the book.

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.

I had mixed feelings about this book – it was an odd jumble of marmite that had me loving some moments, and then bored the next.

I think the driving thing that I really liked about this book was Donna. She was strong (in every sense) intriguing, a no-nonsense kind of girl pushed into an extraordinary world that she doesn’t necessarily want to be in. The premise behind the Order and her arms was fantastic, and I wanted more of that side of things – hopefully there will be some more explanation in the next book, because it was awesome the few glimpses we got to see of both sides of the Order.

I think my biggest dislike of the book was Navin. Which I feel awful just saying, but it’s true – he really didn’t do it for me. He didn’t feel or read like a boy to me, more like a girl, which is always a disadvantage when he’s supposed to be a teenage boy. He grated on me every scene he was in (which were quite a few to say the least) and despite Donna repeatedly saying she couldn’t live without him, I was all for leaving him in the woods. I don’t know if it was that there wasn’t enough character development to flesh him out, or if it was just me having a wobble over fictional boys, but he really wasn’t my cup of tea.

Unlike Xan, who kind of was. Although he still peeved me a bit for fitting the ever present stereotype of boy who you’ve only known a couple of days and yet will do anything )including potentially have a nervous breakdown because of where you’re asking him to go, all because he likes you. I was rooting for him to turn round and tell Donna no. He caved far too easily, so all the build-up of his character and the strength that exuded from him kind of went kaput at that stage.

I felt like the whole thing was a bit rushed. We’re plunged straight into this world, bad things start happening, mysterious guy appears and you know, is terribly handsome and distracting, and more bad things happen. Then we have the kidnap, the insane demands, the slightly insane lengths they go to meet said demands, showdown and everybody goes home. I wanted more backstory, I wanted the book to take its time over some things – like Xan. Yes we had backstory for him, and I get that he doesn’t remember some of it, but it felt like we barely scratched the surface. The same with Donna. And I really hope that more is done for that in the next book.

So all in all, I wanted to love this book but found myself struggling not to put it down at times. As I said Donna was the thing that kept me interested, she’s a brilliant character and I do really want to see more and explore more of her in the next book. I’m hoping that as the series continues we get more development which helps the niggles I experienced with this book disappear. But it’s still an intriguing idea that takes the fey myths and ideas in a new direction.

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