[REVIEW] The Iron Witch – Karen Mahoney

Karen Mahoney
The Iron Witch (The Iron Witch, Book 1)
Random House (UK: 20th January 2011; AU: 1st February 2011); Flux (US: 8th February 2011)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

The fey don’t interest me, but the book’s title did – not the “witch” part, but the “iron” part. I hoped Donna Underwood would be a form of cyborg. Iron and silver keep her hands and arms together after they were heavily destroyed as a youngster, so the metal is less tattoo and more body repairer. Alchemy is far and beyond the most fascinating thing at work here, and I would’ve loved to read about Donna’s arm surgery. I even would’ve enjoyed her alchemy lessons at the Frost Estate. In short, the best stuff is only referred to here – we don’t actually see it happen.

Maybe I’ve read first-person points of view for far too long, so the third-person used here doesn’t appeal as it’s only through Donna’s eyes. Third-person works best when multiple characters have their separate scenes; if it’s just one perspective, first-person is ideal. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my decades of reading, it’s this. So it could be due to third-person that Donna felt somewhat distant.

Xan Grayson is the same mysterious love interest who’s plentiful in YA fiction, only Xan’s less annoying. Donna fancies him, of course, but someone else fancies her – best friend Navin Sharma, whom I much prefer over Xan. And mean girl Melanie Swan is the same mean girl who seems an unfortunate staple of YA fiction.

Less fey, more alchemy, and I would’ve been delighted; as it is, it’s underwhelming. Could signal the rise of alchemy and weird science in fiction, and I certainly welcome it.

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