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The Iron Witch #1

The Iron Witch

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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.

299 pages, Paperback

First published February 1, 2011

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About the author

Karen Mahoney

19 books870 followers
British writer of fantastical things.

THE IRON WITCH, THE WOOD QUEEN & THE STONE DEMON make up my YA contemporary fantasy trilogy for Flux in the US and Random House in the UK. It's about alchemy, dark elves, and a girl with magical iron tattoos. FALLING TO ASH (September 2012), began a new series for Random House UK about an ass-kicking teen vampire called Moth. You can read more of Moth's adventures in her very own webcomic: www.mothtales.com

In my varied career I've been a professional Tarot reader, a college counsellor, a dating agency consultant and a bookseller. Ever since I was six years old what I really wanted to be was Wonder Woman, but have instead settled for being a writer which is the best job of all!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 949 reviews
Profile Image for Kim.
708 reviews1,714 followers
December 4, 2013
How bad is it that talking about the girl on the cover, who is holding a bottle of perfume while sniffing her armpit is more fun, and more interesting than actually reading this book? After putting up with 25% of this book I still feel like I'm looking at a brick wall so I'm throwing in the towel as well.

Come on Jared, throw it in for me, will ya?

I'm going to tell you a short story to express what I want to say about this book. Trust me, I'm going somewhere with this.

Imagine yourself on an average day, in an average supermarket. You look average, don't pay a lot of attention to how you dress and have one friend, who is a member of the opposite sex and (s)he is currently working the counter of said supermarket. The people in the store shy away from you for two reasons: You are the main character in this story and because it's one of the rules of writing a YA book.

You pretend you don't notice people staring and whispering because you are so speshul different, and you are used to it anyway. You browse aisle after aisle, looking for what's on your list. Nothing out of the ordinary ever happens to you.

You reach for your favorite TV-dinner (the last one) and when you try to pull it towards you, you see another hand holding it, pulling in the opposite direction. You are staring into the biggest, bluest, prettiest eyes you have ever seen in your life. In fact, you are staring at the single most beautiful creature on this goddamn earth, and (s)he is staring back at you like they got struck by lightning (I keep reading about this expression, but I cannot imagine you actually look good if you got struck by lightning, but that's beside my point right now).

You are still staring into his/her eyes, and instantly know for a fact that that TV-dinner is the other person's favorite meal. And which deodorant (s)he uses. And the color of his/her socks. And the name of his/her stuffed animal. You don't know why, but you do, and you are sure the stranger in front of you knows a lot of private things about you too. You wonder if you are soul mates. After all, this must mean something, because how often does something like this happen to you?

(s)he smells of a mixture of flowers, apples, Doritos, caramel, cinnamon, cheese, alcohol, cherry-flavored lube and tobacco. I'm sorry, but people who smoke never smell faintly of tobacco. They just smell like tobacco and it overpowers everything.

While you are thinking about the attack of smells on your nose, you see a few emotions flicker over his/her face: recognition, surprise, joy, disbelief, amusement, irritation, love, and lust. You smile sheepishly and then a lot of awkwardness passes when you are trying to decide who will take the TV-dinner. Of course nobody takes it home because you want the other to have it, and then suddenly a vision hits you, clear as day: you see you and this stranger surrounded by fat grandchildren. The expression on your new found soul mate shows that (s)he saw it too, at exactly the same time. You exchange phone numbers, which you list under My One True Love and continue shopping.

When you reach the counter, where your friend is working, Soul Mate bumps into your cart "by accident" but you are so smart and you know this is actually a sex metaphor, because secretly, you think you are so goddamn hot and beautiful it hurts to look in the mirror. It's also why nobody wants to be around you, because people are jealous of you.

The friend at the counter picks up on this immediately and the rigid pose of his/her body alerts the reader that the Best Friend is madly in love with you. Of course you are completely oblivious to this. Because all the outrageous and desperate attempts to show his/her devotion to you go absolutely unnoticed. Besides, you found your soul mate, who has time for this crap anyway?

By the time you exit the store, you will know you were lovers in a previous life (at least 38 times already), married, pregnant, will have endangered your life at least 3 times, and your soul mate sacrificed everything for you to save you. Your best friend is in love with your evil clone who popped up out of nowhere from aisle 2. What happened after the clone threw an axe at you is something you'll find out in the sequel.


I'm sorry, but this is just how ridiculous YA books seem to be these days. It's like you don't even have to try to come up with a decent story anymore, you just pick one girl, two guys, add something supernatural in the mix, shake well and tadaaaaa: Young Adult novel that will "leave readers craving for more". More of what exactly?

I'm sorry, but this book is not my cup of tea. I hope you have better luck when you read it.
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.3k followers
February 25, 2011
The Iron Witch, first book in Mahoney's new Iron Witch series tells the tale and Donna, a young female witch, and her adventures - if you could really call them that.

You don't need to read this book. I can copy and paste an abbrieviated version right here.

Donna: "Oh dear, my life is miserable. I'm different and unique from the people around me because I'm a witch but it's brought me nothing but pain."
Xan: "No! MY life is miserable. I'M different and unique from the people around me because I'm *bleep* (Friends don't spoil friends) but it's brought me nothing but pain."
Navin: "I'm here to forward the plot and provide tension."
Donna: "Pain!"
Xan: *Brooding*
Donna: "Wait? What was that? I thought I saw something?"
Xan: "It was just an elf. Now let's talk about my pain."
Donna: "But I have scars!"
Xan: "Oh! I have scars too! Let me show you!"
Navin: "I think I should forward the plot a little more."
Secret Order of Witches: "We're evil... but maybe this wasn't supposed to be immediately obvious to everyone..."
Donna: "Damn my mental scarring and the irrational female bully whose sole existance is to unnecessarily torment me for no good reason other than to make me relatable as an outcast to my readership demographic! Oh, I think there's a mystery."
Xan: "Let's go!"

*Stuff Happens*

The End.

Maybe we'd stop misunderstanding you if you'd stop looking so dumb. Just a thought...

*By the way, if someone could explain to me what the fuck a "scene girl" is and then help me get rid of it, I'd be really grateful!

Another irritating thing about this book?

this is the kind of arm scarring that would make a teenage girl self-conscious about and want to cover up with fashionable elbow length gloves.

These are totally awesome tattoos that would make other teenagers froth at the mouth with jealousy

The former would be a brave thing for a writer to give to their character. The latter is what this author did. Look, you want to make your character have special, magical designs on their arms that give them super powers then fine. Don't try to pass it off as some kind of crippling disability though. That's just an insult.

So, I don't know how one would manage to make a book about alchemy and dark elves boring but Mahoney did, which is a special kind of talent I suppose.

The characters are completely flat and uninteresting. Most of this book revolves around the characters talking about their pain, empathising with each other's pain and then talking about MORE of their pain. The mystery? There is no mystery. The action? *Yawn* The world building? The pictures of cities that are painted into the windows of late-night talk shows are more interesting. There's just really nothing good about this book.

But don't worry, highly visual, dramatic artwork and a good publicist will make sure the books get sold anyway. Mahoney will make a buttload of cash of her three part trilogy and people will keep asking me who Ursula K Le Guin and Margaret Atwood are.


you suck
Profile Image for Janina.
214 reviews526 followers
February 15, 2011
The Iron Witch is the epitome of a clichéd YA paranormal. There is nothing - absolutely nothing - unique and special about it. This story has been done a billion times before. And it includes everything that has made me weary when it comes to the genre: The heroine, Donna, has lost her parents due to a horrific incident in her past and has been labelled a freak ever since. She is an outsider, bullied at school by the mean popular cheerleader and her clique. She has only one close friend, whom she can’t tell her secret because she fears he would turn his back at her (and it would of course be too dangerous for him). She then meets a boy with a secret of his own and feels an instant connection with him, but it seems like her best friend has feelings for her as well. Hello there, my dear friend, the love triangle. And of course, the heroine also has special powers but resents them because they make her different. Oh, and the love interest drives a Volvo

These ingredients sound familiar to you? To me, they do. And I am sick of them. Seriously, this seems to be 'the guide to write paranormal'. Why? I really don't get it. Why can't heroines be proud of their powers because they make them different? Why can’t – at least once – the heroine already be in a relationship and the novel focus on the actual paranormal aspect? But no, all these stories mainly revolve around a lukewarm love story and the world building itself is sloppy at best.
The thing that lured me into wanting to read this book – before my excitement was lowered immensely by the reviews I read on it – was the magical concept, the aspect of alchemy. But beyond dropping the word alchemy a few times and being all mysterious around it, there was nothing. Because, hey, of course it is something sooo complicated it can’t be properly explained.

I haven't said much about the characters yet, but I fear there isn’t much to say. They are decent people, but they are just so bland. They felt underdeveloped and I certainly didn't root for any of them. I don't know what makes authors think that if their heroine has special powers and a dark past, she doesn't need a personality. Honestly, I'd much rather read about someone without a dark past and with a personality than the other way round. I mean, who wouldn’t? Oh, and way to go to portray a heroine who has beautiful iron tattoos on her arms as 'scarred'. Seriously? That is an insult to everybody who actually has real scars.
But basically, I was just very bored throughout most of the book. I think if it hadn't been my book club's pick for the month, I would have skipped it altogether. Still, I didn’t make it all the way through. Mostly skimmed the last third.

Two more – rather small – things that I found strange: Firstly, the overly dramatic chapter endings. You know, in soap operas, at the end of one episode, there is always this freeze moment and the camera then moves in on a character's face while dramatic music is playing? This is exactly how the chapter endings felt to me. And secondly, the diary entries. They didn't feel like diary entries at all. They read the same than the rest of the book (which was told in third person) and at first I didn’t even really notice they were supposed to be taken out of Donna's journal.

The end of the story: I do not recommend this book. It's not really bad, but it has this haven’t-I-read-this-before? feeling about it. If someone asked me to describe it in one word, the word to come to my mind would be ‘dull’. And I'm really sorry that again, a YA paranormal has let me down. I'm sad that it has become so hard to find the hidden gems in that genre. If you are looking for a good read, look elsewhere. I enjoyed Nevermore by Kelly Creagh immensely, for example.

I've been contemplating my rating here, and eventually chose the one star for what it stands for: I didn't like it (because I can't really say it was okay ...).
Profile Image for Jessica.
741 reviews618 followers
February 15, 2011


And the award for Most Unoriginal Book of 2011 goes to...


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Seriously, was there anything new in this book? I don’t think so. We’ve got the half-orphaned, bullied, outcast heroine with magical powers, we’ve got the best friend who seems to be secretly crushing on her and we’ve got the dark, mysterious and insanely hot boy who seems to have some kind of magical powers of his own and to whom our heroine feels an instant and soul-deep connection to. *yawn* Basically, it’s the same old story as in every other paranormal YA novel out there right now. I know that some ideas will always be repetitive but the problem with this book is that there’s absolutely nothing in it to make it memorable or stand out against all those other books of this genre.

I don’t feel like wasting my breath on this one seeing as my friends formulated pretty good reviews for it already so I’m just going to answer one last question you might be asking yourself right now: Why the 2 stars and not only one? Because I didn’t dislike it completely. I am a huge sucker for paranormal YA novels and I tend to be more forgiving than others when it comes to flawed stories, so I did somewhat enjoy reading this. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it, I’m more like totally indifferent towards it. As my friend Nic said, if this is your first shot at paranormal YA you might think that this is a decent read (or if you are a hardcore fan) but if you are a trouper when it comes to paranormal YA you will definitely feel like having a major déjà vu.
Profile Image for jv poore.
616 reviews210 followers
September 22, 2023
Four years after reading The Iron Witch, passages still pop into my head. I treasure this trilogy.
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Initially intrigued by both the cover and the title of The Iron Witch, I dove right in. I adore all things witch-y, from the cauldron stirrers to Wiccans and all things in between. I expected some version of a “typical” witch in this book. Ms. Mahoney doesn't do typical.

Donna Underwood is actually an average adolescent, in many ways, but her peers don't tend to look very deeply. The long gloves she wears, always, seems such a small differentiation, yet it is enough to bring out the nasty in her class mates. Donna is taunted and teased relentlessly. Luckily, she has her best bud, Navin. He is really the only friend she needs.

As if the weight of being the brunt of jokes and pranks at school isn’t enough, Donna’s home-life hangs in a heavy cloud of mystery, even to Donna herself. Technically, she lives with her aunt, but mostly she is alone. She remembers very little about her father’s death, although she was there. Her mother in an asylum and Donna can’t really understand why.

Particularly puzzling is Donna's "training”. She is being groomed to be a full member of an incredibly secret Order. So secret, in fact, that she knows almost nothing about the Order, which means she can’t really trust them.

Aside from Navin, Donna is totally alone. And she is being pursued. By faeries. (I may have pumped my fist in the air and shouted "Yes!" when I got to this part.)

Partly by chance, and also because of Navin, Donna meets Alexander (Xan). It is quickly apparent that the two share similar secrets, but can they build enough trust to share them in time to save themselves? We shall see.

Ms. Mahoney's mesmerizing, unique story will certainly stay with me. These characters are rich, with depth. There is humor, strength, support, and unparalleled loyalty; the kind you see in teenagers that are still sweetly naive and oddly self-assured. Being a bit late to the party wasn't a problem because the second and third books were both available immediately after I tore through the first one.

This review was written for Buried Under Books blog.
Profile Image for Krystle.
911 reviews335 followers
March 23, 2011
Derivative and lackluster. That’s the best I can sum up this book as.

Okay, so the romance is another one of those gag me, “Dude, you are sooooo hot!” “You too, babe.” “You wanna bone?” “RAVISH ME NOW!” Donna is all obsessed with the bloody bastard and is all in lurve as soon as she meets him. Bleh. I’m tired of this stuff.

Donna is some super special girl with these uber awesome tattoos on her arms which is supposed to hideous as heck, but if I had tattoos like that in high school I’d be the baddest bitch on the block. Whatever. And her special past gives her…. Ding ding ding… SPECIAL POWERS! Wow, did we not see that coming or what? No? Cripes, I thought I was being obvious.

And I was so annoyed with the supposed “chemistry” between the romance leads because it’s this wonderful joyride of omg, I’m so angsty. Why? Because I’ve got these HIDEOUS TATTOOS. Omg, really? I have these HORRIFIC SCARS! Seriously? We’re PERFECT MATCHES FOR EACH OTHER! And then it goes into some more woe is me, we’re truly meant for each other crap. Haha. No thanks. This section totally overtook the plot until there was minimal to little movement forward.

The alchemy? Not much of that in there. I was sad. I was looking forward to seeing how this would come into play in her novel. Bonus points, though, for the incorporation of the Philosopher’s Stone. Loved that! And the ending was a fast paced chain of events. Good for keeping you hooked. In theory, this book had great concepts/ideas but the melding of them wasn’t deftly done. I like how the best friend she had was Indian. Someone different. Maybe it’s a tactic to prove the “hey! my world is DIVERSE!” type of thing but I appreciated it nonetheless.

I’m hoping the sequel will do this a lot better. It’s not a terrible book. If you’re not an overly critical/picky reader I’m sure you’ll like it.
Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews159 followers
February 15, 2011
Hmm, what to say, what to say...
I guess I should start off by saying that I did actually like this one.
It has a great blend of magic, alchemical and paranormal. I enjoyed the characters, the writing was well done and the plot was thick with entertainment and intrigue.

However, there wasn't anything hugely unique in The Iron Witch and I felt like I've read all these elements before.
Donna's role is the 'freak'. She wears gloves to conceal her mysterious hands and has a power that's more like a curse. She's a decent protag, good person, content to just stay invisible but I liked that she stands up for herself when provoked and that she'll fight for the ones she cares about.
Navin is a great buddy. Protective, good scene of humor, loyal, caring and sweet. I thought he took everything quite well with all things considering.
Then there's Xan who's all mysterious and sexy and is obviously just as different as Donna. They had some good chemistry at the beginning, but I guess I just wasn't feeling it by the end. I do give bonus points since .
While there isn't a love triangle in this one, I say...give it time. There is normally a love triangles in 99.9% of YA books, which I don't mind actually, but in this case, I'm not to sure who I'm rooting for at this point.

The most interesting part in all this was also the biggest gaps in the story.
I really love the alchemist element and views and found it all extremely fascinating and while I'm not a huge fey fan, the idea's of wood-elves was actually a pretty neat concept.
I liked the different Orders and what they stand for. As stated; The order have two main tasks. To guard the secret of Immortality and to protect humans from the Otherworlds. That's great...but we didn't get to see any of them step in? Also Donna's Aunt Paige was frequently mentioned, suppose to be a 'rising star' but I think she only had two sentences in the whole book?

There is a great amount of potential in this world and so much more to explore. It felt like the universe was being set up, hints here and there but nothing was fully delivered or explained since the MC was busy trying to save her friend and her love life just starting to get interesting.
So...lot of questions still lingers and I'm looking forward to seeing some relationship/character development as well as more world building.
I did however like the journal entries. It helps the reader keep up with what the character is thinking/feeling and clues us in on the past. It didn't feel like it was suffocating us since there was already enough drama in the plot. Nice touch.

Overall, this was a decent read, and like I said I did like this one. There is a lot of room to grow with these characters and I feel that Mahoney gave us a good foundation for the beginning of a series and I look forward to seeing what she has in store for us in The Wood Queen.
July 23, 2016
I expected a different setting when I read the summary for the book. I thought this would be a dystopian universe where people knew what the iron branding on her arm meant, and that's why Donna is ostracized. I was wrong, but the change in reality vs. my expectations didn't affect my enjoyment for this book.

I think the storyline is an interesting twist on the typical YA fantasy genre. The fairy element is still there, complete with the evil iron-fearing fae and insidious otherworldly creatures, but the inclusion of alchemy and secret orders give it a different feel than the usual teenager-meets-fairies trope. I'll have to admit, when I read about Donna having metal arms, and needing the Maker's services to repair something when she's in pain, I immediately thought Full Metal Alchemist. It is not a bad thing; it gave me plenty of topics to compare and contrast while I was reading this book.

Donna's character is most definitely not a Mary Sue. She is human, she makes mistakes, no emphasis whatsoever is placed on her appearance. Xan refers to her as a "pretty girl" but outside of that, I really can't picture what she looks like, or even her hair color. In a world full of books where the heroine constantly doesn't know how pretty she is, or has teal/purple/green/hazel/golden/rainbow-colored eyes, it's nice to have a normal looking heroine whose appearance is not referred to constantly throughout the book.

One thing I disliked about Donna is her inability to think some things through. She means well, always, but her decisions are not always for the greater good. In her defense, she does second-guess herself and understand that what she's doing might be good for her and her loved ones, but not the best to be made overall. It's like asking if you want your best friend to be killed in order to save 20 other people. There is a major moral dilemma there, and I'm glad Donna realizes that. I also like the fact that she understands that the monstrous creature that nearly killed her is not entirely at fault; it acts on another's command. I'm glad she has that sense of understanding and compassion.

Xan and Navin. Loved both of them. The love interest, Xan, is your typical loner, rich, handsome bad boy, but he's not a jerk. They author could have gone that direction and made him play hard to get or act like an asshole til the very bitter end, when he shows his true character as a golden-hearted angel in disguise, but no. Xan looks tough, but since the beginning, he is genuinely nice, kind, and extremely helpful.

Navin is the best friend ever, he's nice, helpful, and truly cares about Donna (although I don't understand why he's upset that Donna hid the truth from him, it is a pretty far stretch of the imagination, and I can't blame her for that). I am glad that Xan and Navin got along instead of going at it like two alpha males. And NO LOVE TRIANGLE. HURRAH! There is, of course, awkwardness between Xan and Navin. It is realistic, considering one guy is the best friend and the other is the love interest; I've been there myself, but overall, the relationship and dynamics between the three are well-done and not over-the-top.

I didn't like the characters of Simon Gaunt. He seems more like a caricature than a believable villain; there's no redeeming quality, and I can just about picture him sneaking around corners, with a pencil mustache, and cackling quietly and menacingly like a Disney villain. Not realistic at all. The ending and the pace of the story seems very rushed, also. The rushed deadline and the speed at which Donna accomplishes her target didn't seem realistic, considering how little time had passed before she even realizes that the Fae were reappearing on earth. Overall, though, this was a good, quick read, and an interesting story.
Profile Image for Kristy.
592 reviews88 followers
February 16, 2011
well, what can I say that hasn't already been said?!?!? Atleast it was short. I had really high hopes for this one. I liked the cover. I haven't read that many witch books. It had a lot going for it before I had even begun to read it. But, it was crap.

My number one complaint on this: The journal entries!! Oh, sweet baby jesus who writes in their journal like that?!?!? Drives me insane in the membrane. The author was using the journal entries as a way to complete/tell the story and for me, in the instance is just really, REALLY did not work!

That's right, I just made a Ricky Bobby reference

Meet Donna (not crazy about this name for our main character, I like the name itself or for certian characters, i.e. Hot Donna )
the some-what witch, but not really. She has these scars all over her arms and hands from a battle with the woodland elves of her past, only she can't remember half of it. She is "fixed" by the maker, causing all the tatoo looking scars filled with iron. She basically has no powers other than being pretty strong. But not, incredibly strong. Have I lost you yet? Yeah, this is where things really started to go downhill very fast for me too!!! Enter her best friend Nav, who knows nothing about here really. Also enter a new fella in the picture XAN, who has a Lot in common and thus finds out everything about Donna. I have mixed emotions on who she really is interested in... In the beginning you think she is majorly crushing on her bff, but as time rolls on she is obviously into this XAN dude. Blah.

In the end, I expected a book about witches, spells, maybe something along the lines of Once a Witch, but I ended up with some cheesy romance and a half Fairy?!?? Really, from the cover of this I would have never expected anything Fairie to be included and I honestly wish I would have been right. It was just too much. The writing just didn't flow smoothly for me. Like I said above, thank God this was short or this might have been a "cannot finish."
Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews707 followers
January 31, 2011
“Memories are stupid things. Why is it that I can only remember the useless stuff?” Truer words have never been spoken because right now I am remembering rather stupid stuff, but not only that I’m nitpicking over them too!

The book wasn’t terrible, in fact it was rather good at certain moments, most of which involved boy-girl interaction, get your minds out of the gutter! I was referring to Donna and Nav talking the way best friends do and to Donna and Xan, flirting away.

That said, I found the 'parnormal' side of the story a bit weak. Everything was too pat, too clearly explained. Then if you consider her decision to reveal everything - Did telling all make her a good friend, or was this just a convenient means to an end? Couldn’t she have kept on lying? Would it not have been safer? Her blase explanation of what was what and Nav’s acceptance of everything was very contrary to the need to keep everything secret.

Love triangle. All right, I complain about love triangles all the time but since I haven’t read one in quite some time I was not as bothered as much as I normally would be. There’s Donna Underwood, Alexander Grayson and Navin Sharma:

Donna Underwood, survivor of a wood elf attack that left her essentially orphaned, is special. She’s so different that she is even considered special in the Order of the Dragon, what with being the daughter of legends, the niece a rising star AND with having “iron” hands.

Navin Sharma, her best friend kind of reminds me of Puck from Iron King etc. It's his story that got a bit predictable (We all know he is in love with her and that she is the only one unaware.) Nonetheless, I enjoyed his sense of humor, his allusions to Orlando Bloom and Charmed at the beginning of the book already told me that he was my kind of guy (read geek.)

Then there’s Alexander Grasyon. Xan is, again a bit predictable, being older, cool and cocky (Ash, is that you?) But underneath it all, a tortured soul (Why, Ash it is you! JK!)

The chapter endings were all a tad melodramatic because I kept hearing this “DUN DUN DUN DUN” after each. Otherwise Iron Witch was cute, trying hard at times but cute nonetheless.
Profile Image for Nafiza.
Author 6 books1,237 followers
September 18, 2011
I'm tired of writing reviews in the conventional sense so I'll just write my thoughts as I read:

"Hm. Oh. Interesting."
"Hah. Strange new guy. Well then. Why am I not surprised?"
"Of course. The Indian kid next door is the best friend. What is it with these Caucasian authors having guys of different races be the best friend but never the boyfriend?"
"Ooo, fairies. Time to complicate things a bit more?"
"I guess not."
"So right, you are so worried about your best friend but you are entirely unaware that he was kidnapped for the last I don't know how many days?"
"Right. Elixir of life/immortality."
"Finally, some action!"
"Whut? It's over? What?"

Yeah. The book started off strong, flailed and then deflated like a balloon after being rejected at a birthday party of a two year old. Skip it. There are better books out there.
Profile Image for Isabel.
78 reviews
July 17, 2011
I feel really torn about what rating to give The Iron Witch. If there were half-stars on Goodreads I think that I would give it three and a half. I don't know. But I did enjoy this book, and I'm looking forward to the sequels. I really liked Navin -- he was a believable and sympathetic character -- but, I don't know, I think the romance between Xan and Donna could have been better written. I feel uncomfortable saying this because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but first of all I didn't like Xan that much as a character. Of course, this is just my opinion, and it's certainly not a flaw with the author's work, but I kind of had a problem with him. I don't know what... perhaps he was just too much of a "typical" love interest, the hot guy who is mysterious and reckless and, well, don't the male heroines in stories always have that "distracting lopsided grin"? I also thought that the romance could just have been... better. There wasn't enough intimacy and LOVE between Xan and Donna -- it kind of seemed like he was attracted to her and she was attracted to him, but at no point in the story was Donna sort of gradually starting to fall in love, and feeling confused about her feelings, like most people are expected to do when they're in love. It just seemed like a teenage crush and not something that could actually change the heroine.

But this is all my opinion of course, and as a whole I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The plot was good, and by the end of the book everything seems to have been resolved and yet there is so much that the author still has not delved into, which definitely makes you want to read more. The writing was commendable, and besides Xan I thought the characters were pretty well-written. The idea of the story was classic in a way and yet so original and priceless -- I was thinking about this as I read scenes that you seem so familiar but that were somehow still unique... am I explaining this correctly? Anyway, on the whole, a great read; I am anxious to read more.
392 reviews334 followers
February 15, 2011
Rating 2.5 stars

Meh.....This was just okay for me. The writing was okay, the plot was okay, the characters were okay (although Donna is fascinated by guys who can raise one eyebrow), the ending was okay, the romance was okay. I think you get the picture......

I think if you a new to reading young adult paranormal fiction you might love it. But to me I felt like this story has been told before. I do see some potenial in this series as the whole alchemist world is quite interesting but I don't know if I would read the next installment.

SCB Group Read February

Profile Image for Caitlin.
260 reviews51 followers
February 24, 2012
So disappointing.

Those are the only words I can think of to describe this book. I'm not much of a fairy person, nor vampire or werewolf. I like my fantasy to include a realistic feeling to it. Alchemy has always been the closest to "real" I could imagine. I mean, in reality, it was the base of chemistry--before "Science" became reality. So, I was looking forward to a book that had a real alchemy base. Not a side factor. Not a alchemy is magic factor.

But there was none of that. At all. Faeries. Elves. Alchemy as a magic, not science. That's what it was. Okay. Bias opinion over.

First off, Donna came off as an unrealistic character. She degraded her self, but then could be stubborn outspoken and "brave" at the same time. I don't know. Something never rung right there and every time she cracked a joke in the heat of danger, I cringed. I mean, you're trying to free a hostage with evil elves surrounding you. No one would do that. I mean, come on.

In fact, I felt all the characters where unrealistic--over the top. Nav, Xan (Short for Alexander). Even the mean girl who showed up for like, a few seconds than disappeared. That's how everything felt. But that was due because the length of the book. It was extremely short. I got it on my kindle, and I swear, it's the shortest book I have on there. But even with the length, the book was slow. You know the description? The whole, best friend got kidnapped? Yea, that doesn't happen till half way through the book. Half-freakin-way.

Speaking of the plot, it was predictable and simple. There's nothing wrong with simple plots but for something starting so slow, it was a let down. I was at 90% done (kindle doesn't have page numbers) and I had to put the book down. I couldn't finish it then because I'd lost my interest. It took all my might to get the last 10% done.

The only reason why I'm giving this two stars and not one, is simply the potential it holds. The different Orders. Hopefully more detail about alchemy. What's up with Donna being the "Iron Witch". Yea, SO much potential, but it depends on how Mahoney sets up the next book. Just hopefully it won't fall flat like this one.
Profile Image for Erica (storybookend).
372 reviews286 followers
February 13, 2011
I was so anxious to read this book. The premise sounded intriguing, and I thought the cover was pretty cool (not that the cover honestly says anything about the story behind it or that I read a book based solely on the cover, although *cough cough* I kind of do :P). Then I read a couple reviews that said the book wasn’t so great, and my excitement deflated a little, but I still wanted to read it and find out what I thought about it. And, if truth be told, I was kind of disappointed.

The Iron Witch had so much potential, it could have been a really intriguing novel, but it just fell flat with me. I felt no emotion in it; I felt no connection with the characters. And that is what really brings me into the story and makes me love it, the undeniable connections I feel with the characters because of their emotion. In The Iron Witch, I felt nothing. The characters weren’t developed well. What really irked me was Navin and his reaction when Donna told him about her life. One second he’d be fearful, the next he’d be making a joke, then he’d be worried, and then he would shove Donna playfully and smile, and then he’d have a pale face at the end. It was honestly like that with all the characters. It was like they couldn’t settle on an emotion, or they didn’t feel anything deep enough. I don’t know quite how to explain it, but they just didn’t feel or act real.

And the plot was just, anticlimactic. I felt no danger, no fear. I didn’t feel that it was executed well. And It was rather short, some parts told too quickly or glossed over. I really did want to love this book, and I’m sad that I couldn’t. But I just felt bored while reading it, and I can’t say I have any strong urge to read the sequels. I might, but I certainly won’t rush to read them.
Profile Image for Mel.
84 reviews238 followers
March 18, 2011
One of the major problems among many others with this book is that it feels as though the premise of this book died within the first chapter, and the rest of the book was spent dragging around said corpse of premise. Why did the premise end up dead so soon? Because it really wasn't taken care of very well. It takes good plot structure to pull off a premise, and that was unfortunately not being done.

The book didn't seem so sure what to do with itself. It was as though it tried to be in more than one place at the same time. The fact that there was such a big mix of events that took up too much space and stalled far too long for the plot was what made the book such a confusing mess. It might have promised some action and fantasy, but before that, let's have some romance here, some brooding here, some whining there, and OH! LOVE TRIANGLE! and random evil here, now they're dating, now her best friend is jealous, etc. The blurb promised a lot of fantasy, a kidnapping of a close friend and the race to save said close friend, but that plot wasn't even met halfway through the book. Before that we have Donna whining about having magic powers and beautiful markings on her arms and meeting Xan who broods a little and has scars on his back and Donna's best friend is jealous of Xan, and then stuff happens. I can understand wanting to have some events leading up to the promised plot points, however taking up more than half a book and still not meeting the promised plot is wasted space and a waste of time.

Besides wasting space with it's random sequences of unimportant events, the plot structure felt more like a pressed-for-time ramble rather than a story. I mean, in the first 14 pages Donna bitches, randomly shoves rants on magic in there, then bitches some more, goes to a party with her friend, then meets a hit guy whom she feels intrigued by. 14 FUCKING PAGES! “Oh woe is me. I have magic powers by the way. Oh, and I have magic scars on my arms. Woe is me. And everyone hates me. My friend is nice. Woe is me. He dragged me to a party full of people that hate me, by the way. I’m sad. Oh, there’s a guy. He’s hot.”

Also, what was up with the random switches to Donna's diary in first person? The book is told from THIRD person. And it already delves deep enough into Donna's (lack of) mind. Why do we need the diary? You can include diary entries from, let’s say a secondary character with a mystery for example, but when you’re showing us excerpts from the diary of the main character, who the story is centered on and whose diary doesn’t delve into anything deeper than what third person has presented us with in this book, it doesn’t work well.

The writing in this book was messy and borderline ridiculous. The descriptions were silly, unoriginal and repetitive as hell. How many times have I have to read about eyes sliding or looks flashing? I think I counted at least more than ten times for each. Just say 'he looked' or 'she looked' once in a while. You don't need to make a simple look sound fancy-ass. And there was too much description that we didn't need. Why should I care if Navin’s usual position is a slouch? Besides, everyone slouches on a bean bag chair. And why should I care if Navin watches Charmed for the hot chicks? Get ON WITH IT. Also some of the descriptions were down-right hilarious. This particular description made me laugh out loud:

“I’ll call you,” he threw over his shoulder.

HOW CAN YOU THROW A SENTENCE OVER YOUR SHOULDER?? I mean I know the guy has magic powers but HUH??

“Sorry I’m late” His voice was breathless, as though he had been hurrying.
Oh I’m sorry, I couldn’t register that he was in a hurry from the fact that he apologized for being late and being breathless at the same time.

Now onto the... characters...

Donna is someone I'd very much like to punch. She has something that every girl who grew up watching Sailor Moon and Charmed wishes they had: magic powers. And what does she do? Bitches.
So what if you're different? YOU HAVE MAGIC POWERS. You can do so much! You have so much freedom to do really awesome stuff! And she never really explains why her magic powers are so terrible. Oh right, apparently because it makes her 'different'. So? You have magic powers!!!

And also, why is Donna so desperate to fit in? Everyone treats her like shit except for Navin, and yet she still wants to fit in. Why? Why does she want to fit in with a bunch of people that are shallow enough to pick on someone because they have pretty scars? And also, these people are the lamest bullies on the planet with the worst insults. How can she be sad instead of laughing her ass off at them?

Speaking of scars, her whole issue with her scars is downright offensive. Her scars are beautiful, 'intricate' patters with occasional silver. That's nothing you hide, that's something you show off proudly. In real life you'd have people flocking around you going 'Holy shit, where did you get that done?' and not 'Oh my gawd you freak, you have like, pretty markings. We don't like you anymore.'
Let me tell you something Donna: Thanks to my fucked up hormones, I have a skin condition on my back that is only common in teenage males. In other words one patch on my upper back is a much darker shade of skin covered in thick black hair. In further other words, I have partially a man's back. Now THAT'S something I can't show in public. THAT'S something I have the right to be embarrassed about. If instead of my patch of male back I had pretty intricate patterns I'd show it off when I can get the chance. Because it's something that isn't looked upon as disgusting. Your scars are PRETTY TATTOOS, not freaking self inflicted cuts or burns or A MALE'S BACK.

And what in the heck was up with Navin?
"Oh hai Donna. I'm your best friend and I know that everyone hates you and I feel your pain girl. Oh by the way, the people who hate you are throwing a party and I'm invited and you're coming with me even though it would be an incredibly awkward and depressing situation but anyway, I'd get my image boosted so it's all good. OH! I see you have a potential boyfriend. OH! I see you have secrets. I'm going to start stalking you now. Kaythanksbye."
Let's just say I'm glad he gets kidnapped. I hope the creep stays kidnapped.

I don't have much to say for Xan other than the fact that I'm impressed with his apparent ability to throw sentences at people. Other than that he was very boring and tepid.

I didn't finish this book because I no longer gave a damn about it. The structure was a mess, and the writing made the whole experience even more unbearable. It's also extremely unoriginal, just like it's fellow YA paranormal romance cousins. Nothing we haven't seen before, and nothing that ever seems to be done well anymore.
Profile Image for Grüffeline.
1,108 reviews103 followers
February 5, 2019

Ich weiß gar nicht, wo ich anfangen soll... Mir fiel das Cover ins Auge und dann ging es um Feen. Konnte ja eigentlich nicht schiefgehen. Eigentlich.
Uneigentlich passiert den Hauptfiguren Furchtbares und es berührt mich überhaupt nicht.
Uneigentlich habe ich keine Verbindung whatsoever zu den Figuren aufbauen können.
Uneigentlich war der Schreibstil absolut nicht meins, der Text holperte und stolperte so vor sich hin und ich habe mich mehrheitlich gelangweilt.
Uneigentlich fand ich die Geschichte mehr als dünn.
Ich werde die nächsten Bände nicht lesen.
Profile Image for blondie ♡.
77 reviews13 followers
March 29, 2011
How would I describe this story in one word? Underdeveloped. It had so much potential that went unrealized. I was rather intrigued by the premise (a girl whose arms have been adorned in iron tattoos as a result of powerful alchemy that saved her life. I mean, sounds kick-ass, right?), but overall the reading experience left me with a very underwhelmed feeling. Although it was well-written, it lacked a degree of freshness and new ideas that made it hard to engage in the story. I had a hard time immersing myself in the story from the very start. I really, really wanted to like it. I had been looking forward to reading this book for quite a while (and the author seems like such a sweetheart!), but unfortunately it just wasn't my cup of tea. I think this book will be better received by readers that are hardcore fans of the genre.

The characters were hard for me to connect with. Donna, the protagonist, has only one friend (who happens to be in love with her), she is viewed as an outcast and a freak, and she has appallingly low self-esteem. I read an entire book about her, and I still don't really know anything about her personality beyond those simple clichés. Xan, her love interest, is handsome, mysterious, aloof, and inexplicably interested in Donna. I liked him, for the most part (so sue me! I don't care how overdone the mysterious, aloof hot guy is, I swoon everytime). I'm interested in learning more about him, at least. I would have liked to see his backstory a little more developed. Nav, Donna's best and only friend, is loyal and likable enough. I never got too invested in him, though. Between the three of them there is, you guessed it, a love triangle! Unlike a lot of readers, I don't mind a good love triangle. As long as it's well-written and relevant to the plot (not just tossed in pointlessly in order to incite readers to pick "teams" or what have you), I'm fine with it. This one felt a little weak to me, and the end result appears to be pretty obvious. Maybe that's because I don't feel strongly for any of the characters involved. I suppose that's the crux of the matter: I just didn't care. I didn't feel any passion for these characters or their stories.

That being said, I am still planning on reading the next book. I have read some of Mahoney's work previously (in Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love and The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire) and really loved it. I won't rush out to buy the sequel like I did with this one, but I do want to read it at some point in the future. I really feel that if Mahoney had spent a little more time developing her characters and setting and delving into the alchemy aspect of the novel (which was barely touched upon, but supposed to be a major component of the story), this book could have been a great read. I'm very interested in the mythology and the alchemy, and I hope to find out more about them in the second book. The idea is there, it just needs to be fleshed out a little bit more.
Profile Image for Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids.
1,952 reviews205 followers
February 2, 2011
4.5 stars

I love a story that introduces me to fantastic characters, has a plot that keeps me guessing, and leaves feeling satisfied, but also wanting more. The Iron Witch is a wonderful, captivating read that holds magic, romance, and danger within it's pages. It's a story that blends together fairytale and lore perfectly.

Donna Underwood is a breathe of fresh air! Her character completely drew me into her world. She's someone who I completely loved getting to know, as she's a fierce, loyal, devoted friend, and someone who can kick your butt, and yet has a bit of innocence to her. She has a fabulous voice and is someone I related to on a few levels and a character I came to admire. Donna has a special ability, a magical power if you will and through out the course of her story and with the help of her love interest Xan, she realizes she doesn't need to hide who she really is. I'm saying that vaguely so I don't give anything away.

I completely loved the love triangle Karen wrote, as Donna has this fabulous best friend Navin, and then Xan. Navin is a brilliant character as he and Donna have been friends for years. He's been her rock and the one person who's made her feel normal, though she's far from it. Then there's Xan. I completely love his character, though there's something about him that makes me wonder what Karen will reveal about him in the next book. He's far from perfect, and that's one of the things I like about him. Donna and Xan's chemistry is spellbinding and I couldn't get enough and yet wanted more of them.

Along with a fabulous mix of human and paranormal characters, is a wonderful plot that reveals more about alchemy, which was a fabulous addition to this story! I really enjoyed the secrecy and magic that surrounded the plot and unfolds as the story progresses. I found Karen's alchemy to fascinating, unique and creepy all at the same time. I have to say the beautiful cover is the perfect fit for this fantastic story!

Normally I don't compare authors in my reviews, but being a huge fan of Cassandra Clare's, I'll say that Karen's writing is one that is similar to Cassie's, as she knows how to create a world and characters that hooked me from the get go, and she gave me just enough information about them and the plot to keep me hooked, but doesn't reveal too much which kept guessing as to what will happen next. I can't wait to read the next book in this series and highly recommend picking up The Iron Witch!
Profile Image for Katie(babs).
1,815 reviews536 followers
June 23, 2011
My disdain with the current state of Young Adult Paranormals has grown and lately everything I’ve read in this genre has left me disappointed. This leads me to being more critical with these books and I was afraid that would ruin my reading experience with The Iron Witch. I’m happy to say that didn’t happen, and I found The Iron Witch to be refreshing and one I enjoyed reading very much.

The Iron Witch features seventeen year old Donna Underwood, who at seven years old went through a great trauma. Her father was killed by wood elves (and not the friendly Keebler type ones) and her mother went mad because of it. Donna almost died from this event and was saved by alchemical magic, where tattoos made of iron were branded on her arms. Iron to elves is like kryptonite to them. You can imagine what would happen if Donna touches one of these nasty creatures. Also, Donna has super human strength. Donna hates her tattoos and what she’s capable of because she feels she’s a freak. She always wears gloves to hide her tattoos from the public and herself. Donna is also home schooled because of a violent reaction she had to a girl who bullied her at the high school she once attended. Donna feels close off from the world because she’ll never be normal.

Donna is pretty much a loner, but at least has her best friend Navin as her rock. Donna would do anything for Navin, who has no clue about her capabilities, and because of Navin pushing her to have more fun, she ends up going to a party with him at some rich boy’s house. Donna ends up meeting the college dropout named Xan, (short for Alexander) who she finds fascinating. Soon she and Xan become friends and form a connection because Xan also has a secret like Donna. Xan is half faery.

Strange things start to happen in the city. Elves are making their presence known again and causing problems. Donna and Xan team up to figure out what’s going on. And then Navin is kidnapped, along with Maker (an alchemist inventor of sorts), by the Wood Queen, ruler of the Elflands and stealer of human souls. She’ll release them only if Donna brings her an elixir that holds the secret to eternal life. If Donna doesn’t do what the Queen wants, she’ll keep Navin and Maker with her forever. Donna must find a way to steal the elixir from the very people who saved her and are trying to keep the world safe from the elves who are determined to take back what they feel is rightly theirs.

I found The Iron Witch to be very easy reading. This is a spellbinding world of magic and mysticism with a down to earth and stoic protagonist. Donna is an analytical thinker who reacts to situations very much the way I would. The strongest parts of The Iron Witch is her relationship with Navin, and the one that counteracts that with Xan. Both boys have unique personalities and Donna has great chemistry with both.

Karen’s storytelling is very comforting. The dark moments aren’t too overly drastic and I can’t help but compare Karen to a lighter, fluffier version of Melissa Marr and her Wicked Lovely series. If you’re a fan of Melissa, I would recommend you give Karen a read. I really enjoyed the magical elements and the subtle twists on the elf and faerie myths.

The Iron Witch is book suited for all ages. It’s not too complex and simple enough where you’ll be fully engaged as you read. I look forward to the future adventures of Donna, along with Navin and Xan by her side, as she fights the elves who plan to use her for their own devious reasons.
Profile Image for Rose.
1,878 reviews1,065 followers
March 3, 2013
Karen Mahoney's "The Iron Witch" evokes conflicted sentiments within me. I probably should not have liked this book as much as I did given the familiar elements and progression, but somehow it had its moments of bringing me into the overarching story. I didn't go into this novel with high expectations, and part of the reason I decided to pick it up were because I was approved for an ARC of the third and final book of this respective trilogy. It seemed interesting, so I jumped at the chance.

Donna Underwood is a girl with a rather dark secret. As a child, her father sacrificed his life for her after she was attacked by a Wood Elf, which in the treatment of her injuries, her hands and forearms were covered in an alchemic iron tattoo. Her mother was committed to a mental facility after the event as well. Ever since, Donna's lived with the secret of hiding her "scars" under gloves, and being a part of a special order that keeps the fey world in line. Her aunt supervises and cares for her.

Donna's a bit of an outcast at her school due to her having to wear gloves and an incident that had her permanently labeled as a freak. Her only friend Navin keeps her spirits up, but even he doesn't know the truth about her involvement with the Order, and about her respective injuries or abilities. But at a party one night, Donna meets Xan, a boy who has more common links to her than she realizes. Over time, Xan and Navin both will discover the secrets that Donna hides (with varying reactions to it) and become involved in a plot that culminates when Navin is captured and taken into the Fey world.

The more that I think about the aftermath in reading this novel, the more structural problems I saw with it, but I actually enjoyed reading this. It kept my attention and I liked the interactions between the characters in spurts. Some of the worldbuilding I understood and appreciated some of the time taken into developing it, and the eerie creatures of the world were certainly worth reading about. I think the major problem I had were the times when Donna would focus on the wrong thing in the heat of the moment. There was one point where I said something akin to "Donna, this is not a time to be thinking about Xan's boy parts, you're in danger. Focus." There were bit parts of this through the narrative where I did a series of mental facepalms because it occurred in transitions of major plot/tension points. At the same time, there were other times when Mahoney is aware of these parts and pokes fun at them for the sake of doing so. I liked her narrative voice and flow in the story for the most part.

There's a formulaic measure to this story if you think about it in some terms. Outcast girl with dark secret/past, best friend who feels cheated out of the secrets the girl keeps, outcast special boy who likes outcast special girl - which then leads to insta-love connection. Best friend gets abducted, girl must betray society which she knows to save him. I didn't mind the formula that much here (because it really wasn't worse than other YA books I've read), but I did mind the abrupt ending. Gah, that ending, I felt it concluded far too quickly and left quite a few threads dangling, not in a good way to lead into the next book of this particular series. I have to admit I had fun in the journey, but it was a rough conclusion point. Still, I'm curious to see where this work goes, and am looking forward to it because I liked - collectively speaking - the characters and realm built here.

Overall score: 2.5/5
Profile Image for A.L. Davroe.
Author 16 books522 followers
April 6, 2015
I had really high hopes for this book because I love the fae and alchemy. It's a quick read that alternates between third person narrative and journal entries. I didn't dislike this book -- I finished it in multiple sittings and didn't feel like I wasted my life, but I came away from it with a "meh" sort of feeling.

The characters just didn't do it for me, I guess. I liked Xan (who doesn't like a hot faerie guy?), but Donna, the main character, and the other supporting characters (especially Navin -- who I should have really liked as the reason Donna puts herself on the line) weren't likable enough for me to care what happened with or to them.

While fae is decently represented here, the alchemical portion is grossly underrepresented. There's a lot of little nods to alchemy, but Donna has been getting a formal education in alchemy and never once "does" just spouts book-learning and neither do any of the other alchemists. It's all a looking back on action sort of feeling. I'm not sure if that's supposed to be (I get the feeling that Donna has some sort of hidden power maybe?), but it's not well covered.

Finally, the climax felt a bit lack-luster, ending felt rushed, and many questions still went unanswered, which gave the whole store a disjointed feeling to me. There was a lot of potential for something great here, and you saw little glimpses, but it just didn't follow through for me. Perhaps in a second book some things are covered more, but I'm not feeling the characters enough to pick up that second book and get those answers...
Profile Image for  Tina (Fantastic Book Review).
402 reviews594 followers
February 15, 2011
Mini Review
I love the cover of this book and the synopsis is what really made me want to get my hands on it. With high praise from and a comparison to some of my favorite authors, I had a feeling I would enjoy THE IRON WITCH immensely. This book immediately pulled me into the life of Donna as she tried to remain in the background while keeping her secrets. A secret that she’s kept from her best friend Navin until an attack blows the lid off of her hidden world.

I really liked how Donna met Xan. I think their meeting really set the story up for me and I realized as I read along how I kept wanting to read more and more scenes with them. About half-way through the book, the plot seemed to drag a bit. I wanted the story to speed up and get into the nit and grit of things. There were times when I thought conversations were redundant and a bit childish at times. I was hoping that the fey in this book would be scarier and darker but they served their purpose - not at all like Julie Kagawa’s or Leslie Livingston’s fey which I already have on a high pedestal. I had high expectations going into this book but overall, it was a good read just not what I had in mind.
Profile Image for Melanie Schneider.
Author 20 books80 followers
September 2, 2015
Die Geschichte klang so gut, aber die Umsetzung war größtenteils wirklich miserabel.
Ein ordentliches Lektorat und eine Agentin, die der Autorin Feuer unterm Hintern gemacht hätte, hätten der Geschichte sehr gut getan. Es gab einfach zu viele Formulierungen, die nicht allein aufgrund der Übersetzung schlecht sein konnten. Mindestens fünf mal hat sich die Geschichte bzw die Hauptprotagonistin widersprochen. Zeitebenen wurden durcheinander gebracht und Logikfehler gab es zuhauf. Auch Personen hatten gern zwischendurch mal andere Angewohnheiten oder würden je nach Stimmung anders auf Tatsachen reagieren.

Die Zweifel von Donna gegenüber ihrem Orden konnte ich ihr nicht abnehmen. Generell war sie eher undurchsichtig. Wie ein kleines Kind, dass ab und zu erwachsen spielt. Eine wirklich befriedigende Entwicklung hat ihr Charakter nicht durchgemacht.
Auch die anderen Charaktere blieben eher flach, auch wenn ich Xan ganz gut fand.

Keine Ahnung, ob es weitere Teile gibt, aber es ist unwahrscheinlich, dass ich diese lesen werde.
Profile Image for Brian Kell.
96 reviews5 followers
July 21, 2010
Karen Mahoney creates a wonderful, fresh story with her debut novel. The voice of Donna Underwood will resonate with all ages as she tries to discover her role in the war with the Dark-Elves. Funny, fast paced, and tender, this story unfolds in so many interesting layers. A must read for all who love a great paranormal.
Profile Image for Tash.
291 reviews55 followers
May 3, 2011
I like this book (almost loved). This book has some of the stuff I like. Like alchemy and faeries(!)I like the fact that even Donna is a 'freak' she has a good friend. I like Navin. I want to have best friend like him. As for Xan, I don't like him very well. Haha. This book left me hanging.
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews2,004 followers
January 3, 2011
Donna Underwood is just trying to have a normal life but that’s a pretty difficult task given who she is and what she’s been through. The survivor of a horrible wood elf attack when she was a child, an attack who killed her father, left her mother all but a an empty shell and destroyed her own forearms – later rebuilt with iron tattoos that give her super-strength, Donna lives with her aunt and is home- schooled by alchemists. Her only connection with the normal world is via her best friend Navin (who knows nothing of her past nor even about her hands) but then he is kidnapped by the elves and is brought into her world – and now there is not more evading or escaping who she is and Donna will do anything to save her friend.

The Iron Witch is a wonderful combination of a Coming of Age story and a Quest. The first deals with Donna having to come to terms with who she is, how she lives, and the truths about her world (revelations galore but also quite a few mysteries still to be revealed) which mixes alchemy and the Fey. That mixture is interesting not only because of the world-building created by the author (with four different Orders of alchemists; a lot of details about how alchemy works without being extremely info-dumpy and then the juxtaposition with the Fey world) but also because some of the specific terms and principles of alchemy are actually incorporated into the story as themes. In that sense transformation as the cornerstone of alchemy is actually the main theme of the novel, as Donna has to grow up and accept herself (and her arms, and her powers). The alchemists and Fey’s search for immortality and the elixir of life are also reflected by Donna’s search for normalcy – both of each seemly impossible aims. Or are they?

As for the writing itself, I already knew from reading Karen’s short stories that I enjoyed her writing style but The Iron Witch settled it for me as I found myself liking her prose – but not as much as I liked the strength of her characterisations.

As much as I liked the world-building and plot, for me, the strength of the novel lies with its main character, Donna Underwood. It is easy to understand her need to be normal: it can’t be easy to feel like a freak, with iron tattooed arms that can be (and are) used as weapons that can actually hurt people (as cool as it may sound). Similarly, it is also easy to understand why she never told Navin about her past or her hands and I felt for her when the time came to actually tell all – I truly felt for her and her fear that he would not accept her. I love the fact that she has all this potential for kicking-ass but is also quite vulnerable. Don’t get me wrong though, when the time comes for kicking some serious ass, she does it: and she even saves Xan, the guy who she is falling for. She does not just sit down and waits to be rescued and that’s another thing to love about Donna: how proactive and independent she is.

Also, her steadfast loyalty to Navin and how she will stop at anything to get him back. I truly appreciate the fact that she is not distracted by the appearance of the Romantic Interest or that there is no undercurrent of romance between Navin and Donna. It’s friendship and friendship alone – at least I did not read it like that although I have seen between already picking Teams. I don’t think this series is about Teams at all unless it’s Team Donna in which case, sign me up.

I would also give credit where credit is due: there is a lot of diversity in the novel as well, and this is something I really like. Navin for example is of Indian descent and I liked Mahoney’s portrayal of his family; there are also a couple of secondary male characters in a stable sexual relationship.

I am not a huge fan of the insta-attraction between Donna and Xan to be honest although I can somewhat understand their connection (both have been terribly attacked by the Fey losing something important). I think Xan is quite shaddy and I am not entirely convinced about this character. Having said that and in all fairness, even though there is this immediate attraction, there are no love words exchanged or vows or anything like that. The relationship is actually progressing slowly. Plus, Donna has a powerful personality that does not disappear when falling in love. For example, there is this one scene when Xan tries to pull a Edward Cullen and control how Donna is going to behave next Navin and she just cuts him off:

"What I do or don’t tell Nav is none of your business"


The best thing though is that I don’t think that Donna’s Quest is done – I think (as I hope) that Donna still has a long way to go, maybe even something to do with her mother. Bring on book 2.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Corinne.
551 reviews18 followers
April 26, 2011
If I ever invent a time maschine, I would surely use it in the first place to wind back the time I "squandered" while reading this novel!!!

To sum it up, this book is simply a reheated and rehashed YA fantasy story and I was really grinning a little bit about the "The making of the iron witch" at the end of this book, when the author writes about the long process this book took, because I for once didn't feel a thing of this research while reading it! There is no real background behind the plot, i.e. the history and concept of the alchemists coves isn't described at all and Donna as well as all the other characters in the book are flat stereotypes out of a role-playing game, although Donna herself stated in her journal that :"I don't believe in things being that black or white; life is rarely that simple". Karen Mahoney should have heeded Donna's opinion! And that brings me to my 2nd critique point: the different viewpoints of the story. Between several chapters in the 3rd person's view are Donna's diary notes and the only likely explanation of this mixed style is that the author did realize that without the main character's view, nobody would start to connect with her on an emotional level! However, I found these notes merely annoying and Karen Mahoney needs to develop more connections with her figures and think more about her characters and their history. But what really annoyed me - besides paying for my copy and the killing of trees for this rubbish - is the cop-out ending! There's not even a real fight, the action is comprised of two paragraphs then Donna kills the elf dog and that's it. But even worse is the scene with the wood elf queen! The exchange from prisoners against the elixier of life (or whatever it was called) would and should never have happened in such a way!!! The queen basically let the two prisoners get away and waits patient and trustingly on the sideline for the promised elixier! LOL Maybe the author didn't saw some of the countless movies where such an exchange happens and is maybe a little bit naive, but even a 5 year-old child would do this better!!! No one would exchange something that essential simply on good faith!!! A complete waste of time ;(
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Emilija.
286 reviews72 followers
June 10, 2013
So. Iron Witch.

It didn't leave a lasting impression on me. I read it yesterday and already I have trouble remembering what happened. I guess it's just an entertaining enough story to pass time with, and that's pretty much it. The writing didn't have the certain depth I like or a story even should have if the goal is to make the readers feel something towards the characters.

Not gonna lie, the storyline is pretty weak. It didn't impress me at all and overall I just expected more from this. There was very, very little character development - if any - which is a shame, I think I like Donna. Same with Xan. I think their relationship is very organic, not based on looks or any of that shit, but the whole "Let's share our tragic stories even though this is the second time we met" was not ok with me. It didn't feel real or even ok. As a person who's very huge on respect and loyalty, I have trouble understanding people like that. For me personally to be able to share anything from my past with another person... That person has to earn my respect first and with respect comes loyalty and that takes time because you have to GET TO KNOW THE PERSON first.

I think the whole reason/motivation why Donna did the things she did, didn't translate well. I'm sure that saving your best friend is very important and would mean a lot to Donna, but it just didn't seem like it was enough. Overall the story is just weak and the pacing... I had so many troubles with the pacing. I can't even.

Honestly, I have a lot more I want to say, but I pretty much touched every subject that I would have gotten into fine detail already so I'll just leave it at that. I just don't think that this is worth my time. This book is fun enough to pass time with, but I wouldn't recommend this if you want something to really invest yourself in. Also, there's a lot more that needs to be answered in the following books, but I don't feel the need to know them - that's how uninterested I am in this.
Profile Image for Clarabel.
3,268 reviews25 followers
April 17, 2020
En cette période de confinement, je profite de vider mes étagères pour faire le point ou rattraper mon retard dans mes nombreuses lectures en souffrance. 😖
J'ai ainsi retrouvé ce roman dont j'avais lu la VO au moment de sa parution.
Et hop... petite relecture au passage avant de relire mon avis de l'époque - avis auquel je souscris à 100% car mon sentiment n'a guère évolué en bien ou en mal. Par contre j'ai vraiment le sentiment que la traduction a aussi fait perdre du charme à la nouveauté. Je n'avais pas souvenir d'une lecture aussi fade et morose !
L'héroïne est assez molle et ses prétendants masculins sont ... quelconques hélas. L'intrigue s'appuie sur un délire de Faërie et d'Alchimistes (plutôt pas mal) mais l'exécution est maladroite et enchaîne les stéréotypes. Bref. Ça manque de peps et de fraîcheur. La suite n'a d'ailleurs pas été traduite... hum ! 😕 Question éthique, c'est pas bien.
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