Thursday, 20 January 2011

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

3rd February 2011, Corgi Children's
(I had 240 pages, but final copy may vary), Paperback
Review copy

Young Adult, Paranormal

Not so cute elves, the Faerie realm, organisational intrigue, friendship and families, isolation, magic, one instance of strong language, occasional reference to drugs/drink

Press release summary from Random House Children's Book 
Freak. 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 now 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. 

Nayuleska's thoughts
*waves hi to Kaz* With favourite authors, I already know what their writing is like. Their books usually head to the top of my TBR pile because I can't stand not know what happens. My story about knowing Kaz does have a place in this - go to Saturday, 10:40am in my report of RHCB Blogger Brunch. We've exchanged a few emails inbetween her busy schedule, and lots of tweets which are easier to respond to than emails. She is a sweet, funny writer. So imagine my face when I got an email asking if I'd be interested in reviewing THE IRON WITCH. Duh!!! There was only one answer. Today (2nd December) there's been lots of snow. I'm on an extra long weekend from work. When I opened up the jiffy bag with this book, I was squealing very loud in my head.

I'm aware that liking Kaz could mean I'm a little biased towards her book. I do think 'knowing' an author (be it online or in real life) means I actually nit-pick the story, picking up the smallest detail which ordinarily I wouldn't think twice about. I genuinely mean this when I say it's pretty awesome. I related to Donna on a lot of levels, because her old school mates (not that they were all friends) pick on her, because she's a little different. I liked the strength of character she has to do what she believes is right, even when it could cost her everything. I loved the snippets of info about the Order which are dribbled throughout the book. This, and the mystery surrounding her accident all heighten the tension for readers. I accurately guessed early on what part of the plot was - which made it more entertaining at the end. The style of writing is flowing and great fun. Here are a few of my favourite phrases:

In chapter one, I knew I loved the book after '...surrounded by the glitterati of high school...'

I loved the realism of her past - and her present in this paragraph in chapter 10 "Donna took a deep breath and began to tell him the fairy-tale horror of her life. No Disney glass for her - just the cold darkness of Grim."  As a Disney fan, and being quite freaked out by Grimm stories, I felt this sums up the story accurately. Donna is telling her life as it is. There are moments of happiness in the book. There are lots of fearful, uncertain moments when I got a funny feeling that went from my tummy button to my spine (seriously - it was weird!) I absolutely adore her arms, I love the gloves she wears and the power that she has because of them. Although they caused her great sadness, they prove to be useful in the war.

I think perhaps the only thing which I wasn't keen on (and I'm pretty sure Kaz will forgive me for saying this) is that plot was quite a simple structure. There were twists in it, but not major life changing ones. There is a lot of mystery about Donna's life, and when she counters the enemy there is real sense of apprehension, but I would have liked more obvious attacks on her. There were a few, but it felt like there could have been a little more. This leads me think this is a more character driven story. The characters are incredibly rich and detailed in their description. I could almost see them forming before my eyes on the page, I could imagine every outfit they wore, every lock of hair. That's a brilliant talent to have, to make the characters so interesting and not having me think 'yawn, this is just another description' (Sometimes I glaze over at descriptions of clothes).

Final conclusion 
Donna's magic in the iron witch is unique and intriguing. I feel that this can't be the end of her story, there's a lot more to the Order to be explored, as well as her own powers, and Xan's. ETA: there is a book 2 on the way! Nice!

Book 2, The Wood Witch is coming at some point in the future :)


Cliona said...

Brilliant review! I'd love to read this, I adore books about fairies and magic stuff like that!

Nayuleska said...

Definitely add it to your list!