Target Audience: Teens/Young Adults
This has been on my to-read list for a while now and it struck me just how many books now have the word 'Iron' in them. Yet it's also struck me how wonderfully different they are, which goes to show that titles and covers don't tell you everything!
The Iron Witch focuses on a teenage girl called Donna Underwood who, after an horrific attack as a child in which her father was killed by the Fey, ended up with severely damaged arms which were then reconstructed using magic and metal. As if this isn't enough to make her stand out in the crowd, there is also the fact that she is part of a secret order whose main purpose is to discover immortality and develop the Elixir of life.
Donna's life isn't easy, but it's reasonably steady, then a random encounter at a party and the kidnapping of her best friend shortly after changes everything.
Considering the amount of Fey related book's I've read in my life, it takes a good plot for one to jump out at me and keep me interested. I still remember the first Faerie story I read, which was Holly Black's Valiant, quite a few years ago now and I'm still amazed by how many different takes there can be on the Faerie genre. Karen Mahoney does a brilliant job of taking an age-old genre and breathing some new life into Faerie whilst twisting it with other mythical and magical folklore and legend.
The idea behind the Elixir of Life is brilliant and the way it blends with the Fey fits perfectly and makes sense; not an easy thing to do, and for that Karen deserves a round of applause.
Something else that really struck me about this novel was that the enemy wasn't always the most obvious candidate and as the book progressed I found myself doubting the integrity of most of a few of the so-called 'good-guys'. Some characters really made my skin crawl, namely Simon *shudder* and a few other left me feeling a bit edge, which is a good thing in my eyes. If a character is well written enough to make me actually cringe then the writer has done a really good job in describing them.
As well as being a really well told story this is one of the best slow burning romances I've read in a novel. Well, I say slow burning but the romance between Donna and Xan is pretty intense but there relationship in a romance sense progresses pretty slowly, which is good, I find it a bit irritating when a couple meet up and the progress from kissing to jumping into bed together within a few chapters (Just a small pet peeve of mine, especially in a Young Adult book).
Friendship was another predominant theme throughout and Donna's relationship with Navin made for heartwarming reading and even spiked a bit of jealousy. Who wouldn't want a friend that would go to any length to save them? Donna was willing to risk anything for him and in turn Navin was very understanding despite the things he goes through throughout the course of the novel. Where will there relationship go from here? I guess I'll have to wait for the next book!
The one thing that annoyed me slightly was the fact the ending was left slightly too open for my liking and there wasn't enough resolved. In order to find out what's happened to certain characters I will have to read the next book. This isn't a problem because I want too, but I do like some form of closure at the end, and to me it felt a bit rushed.
Having said that, don't let that put you off, I'm still giving it a high rating because it truly is an amazing book. Karen Mahoney has a bright future ahead of her as an author!