My Catchphrases

Friday, 21 January 2011

Review: The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

Title: The Iron Witch
Series: The Ironbridge Chronicles
Author: Karen Mahoney
Publisher: Corgi Children's
Publication Date: 20 Jan 2011

Source: Publisher - Thank you

Synopsis: From Amazon
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.

The tension literally crackled off the page from the very first word. The air of mystery combined with intrigue and magic is tantalisingly woven together to provide a page turning plot.

Written in third person narrative but focalized from Donna's perspective; I will admit I didn't actually notice it was third person narrative until after the first chapter. I think this was due to the fact that I found Donna so completely relatable, I actually felt as if I was in the party at the very beginning with Donna. Such powerfully descriptive writing draws you straight into the story, encompassing all the senses.

The chapters are interspersed with first person diary extracts giving insight and understanding to both the plot and characterisation.

Donna is such a wonderful character, steadfast/loyal and a deeply devoted friend even though she has suffered emotionally and physically herself. Her wonderfully strong sense of self was inspiring. Even the brutal high school cliques weren't able to dent her strong core essence although they did cause momentary hurt.
All the characters were well rounded and their interactions believable/relatable. I would love some more background details on the two male protagonists. They really compared and contrasted beautifully with each other - no love triangle here (I don't think). Navin, the best (only) friend, supports Donna emotionally and is fiercely protective of her, sticking with her through anything. Xan, the love interest, hot/steamy while retaining an air of charm to sweep a girl off her feet *swoon*. I am concerned that he has an ulterior motive for his relationship with Donna and hope I am proved wrong.

You should know by now that my catch-phrase is 'reading is subjective', with that in mind, I will say that due to my experience of my Mother being in a Nursing Home the description of the Nursing Home within the narrative was so disturbingly real to me that I found it a bit difficult to read. Purely from the emotion it invoked from my own experience. Again this gives Karen Mahoney credit for such descriptive and realistic writing.

The revelations and plot building was richly layered developing throughout the story and beyond, leaving me desperate to find out what happens next. A wonderful mix of mystery, intrigue, suspense, romance and friendship with paranormal elements. The beginning of the book and the end tie together beautifully bringing together the revelations that have been placed throughout the book.

I just can't believe this is a debut novel. I am sure it will be the first of many fantastic books by Karen Mahoney and I for one can't wait for the next installment of The Ironbridge Chronicles.


  1. Is the paranormal element of the book quite small then? So readers who aren't particular fans-of-fairies *ahem* shouldn't be scared to read this one?

  2. Oh my word, this sounds sooo fab! My copy arrived a few minutes ago along with Unearthly, The Iron Witch and Inside Out. I just don't know which of those fab books to pick up next!

  3. So glad I have a copy, I need to dig in already!!!

  4. I need to get this one. I am drooling at all the fabulous reviews of it.

  5. I've been hearing so, so, so many good things about this book! I really must pick up a copy soon!

    Great review - I enjoyed reading it! :)

  6. I think I need to buy a copy of this soon - it sounds so good, fab review :D

  7. It is just beautiful. I hope you all manage to read it.

  8. Like a lot of other people I need to get my hands on a copy of this pronto! I have a feeling that I'm going to love it :)

  9. Ok, if I still had doubts about this book, you officially changed my mind. :) Well-written review that has me intrigued about the characters, especially Donna and Xan!

  10. l want to read this even more now!

  11. I don't normally comment on reviews, but I just wanted you to know how much this one touched me. The part about the nursing home... You know, I didn't even think much about how that might affect people - my gran was in various homes for years. I visited her right up until she died over a period of 6 or 7 years, so maybe that's where the realism of that scene comes from.

    Thanks for such a wonderful review. :)


  12. Wow, it sounds so chock full of awesome. I feel I am missing out because I haven't read it yet. Great review.


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