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The Iron Witch (Iron Witch Series #1)
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The Iron Witch (Iron Witch Series #1)

3.4 48
by Karen Mahoney

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When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed Donna Underwood’s father and drove her mother mad. Her own nearly fatal injuries were fixed by alchemy—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. Now seventeen, Donna feels like a freak, doomed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. Only her


When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed Donna Underwood’s father and drove her mother mad. Her own nearly fatal injuries were fixed by alchemy—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. Now seventeen, Donna feels like a freak, doomed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. Only her relationship with her best friend, Navin, is keeping her sane. But when vicious wood elves abduct Navin, Donna is forced to accept her role in the centuries-old war between human alchemists and these darkest outcasts of Faerie. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous guy with faery blood running through his veins and secrets of his own, Donna races to save Navin—even if it means betraying everything her parents fought to the death to protect.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Mahoney's debut novel mines the familiar turf of the adolescent with magical abilities who just wants to be "normal." Donna Underwood, survivor of a faerie attack in the Ironwood years earlier, lives in Ironbridge, Mass., where she's been kicked out of high school and receives "homeschooling" from an alchemical society that saved her life by tattooing and reinforcing her arms with iron, giving her superhuman strength. Donna's best friend, Navin, tries to keep her in the flow of ordinary teenage life, taking her to parties like the one thrown by the mysterious Xan Grayson. It quickly becomes apparent that Xan's secrets are akin to Donna's. It's also clear that malignant elves from the Ironwood are starting to infiltrate the town, but why? Questions become crises when Navin disappears, and Donna must choose between keeping her secrets and saving her friend. Back-story takes precedence over present action in this installment, with info dumps taking the form of Donna's diary and conversations with out-of-the-loop characters. But although Mahoney's story takes a while to get going, she lays intriguing groundwork for later books. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"This story has it all for fans of (sub)urban: vicious adversaries, devoted friendship and first romance." —Kirkus Reviews

"Dark and beautiful, sensual and dangerous, utterly enthralling ... You'll fall under this book's spell." —Richelle Mead, New York Times best-selling author

"Teen girls will love the descriptions of Donna's feelings about her new love interest, and the details about clothing, friendship, and her attempts to fit in. Fantasy lovers will enjoy reading about a different world trying to hide in ours. This book should prove to be the beginning of a popular series." —School Library Journal

"Mahoney's debut sizzles with romance and alchemical swashbuckling ... A captivating read." —Tiffany Trent, author of In the Serpent's Coils

"Dark around the edges, but shiny at heart, this is a worthy addition to the YA paranormal shelf." —Michael M. Jones

VOYA - Lucy Schall
When Donna Underwood was seven, a fey attack supposedly killed her father and drove her mother mad. The Order of the Dragon fixed and marked Donna's injured arms with elaborate iron tattoos that give her superhuman strength. Now seventeen, Donna lives with Aunt Abigail, a rising star in the Order. Her best friend, Navin, takes Donna to a party where she meets the host, handsome Xan, who shares her supernatural world. Eventually the two combat the Wood Queen, who holds Navin and the Maker of the Order as prisoners to barter with Donna for the Elixir of Life. Through the confrontation and rescue, she realizes her power and learns she is called the Iron Witch. Donna, Xan, Navin, and high school bullies remain flat as they operate in a predictable soap-opera plot that often bogs down in description and repetition. Donna's first-person journal entries, which supplement the third-person narration, have a more immediate feel. Injected humor, such as Donna's defeating a wood elf with a toilet plunger and a discussion between Xan and Donna about whether the Wood Queen's name is French or Jewish, seem awkward rather than humorous. Hopefully the next two volumes of this supernatural mystery romance will develop the characters, introduce more unusual plot elements, and add significance. Middle school and junior high girls drawn to supernatural drama may find this a motivating read. Reviewer: Lucy Schall
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Donna Underwood is not your typical high school senior. At a party, she meets Alexander (Xan), who is also anything but typical, and in fact bears the scars on his back from where his wings were removed. Donna wears elbow-length gloves to cover up her iron hands, made for her when she was seven and her father was killed, her mother driven insane, and Donna burned by a terrifying creature called Skriker. These teens are trying to act normal in the world of the "commoners," but Donna is forced to use her atypical strength and knowledge about the fey world to save her friend Navin, with Xan's help. Teen girls will love the descriptions of Donna's feelings about her new love interest, Xan, and the details about clothing, friendship, and her attempts to fit in. Fantasy lovers will enjoy reading about a different world trying to hide in ours. There are subtle references to sex and underage drinking and drug use. At the end, readers are aware of more to come, and this book should prove to be the beginning of a popular series.—Kathy Kirchoefer, Prince Georges County Memorial Library System, New Carrollton, MD
Kirkus Reviews

This book begins and ends with a diary entry from the journal of Donna Underwood, whose strongest childhood memory—seeing her father killed—was followed by her mother's entry to a private sanatorium. His killers, vicious wood elves, mangled Donna's hands and arms so badly that only magical surgery would save them. Now the wood elves are back; they've kidnapped Donna's friend, Navin, and, it's up to Donna to save him. The protagonists of this fantasy adventure—Donna, Navin and romantic interest Zan—are well drawn and engaging. Secondary characters (mostly adults)—sketchily developed humans and fey—mainly exist to drive the solid plot. And what a plot! Complex in structure, it includes a secret society of alchemists whose motives are veiled, the mystery of Donna's dad's death and a budding romance between Donna and the half-fey Zan. The success of the story depends heavily upon the geographical contrast between small-town Ironbridge, Mass., and the dark forest that leads to the home of the wood elves. The suspense and tension built into the story lead to a smashing climax and an ambivalent solution. Enough plot threads are left dangling that readers should expect at least one sequel. This story has it all for fans of (sub)urban: vicious adversaries, devoted friendship and first romance. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Product Details

North Star Editions
Publication date:
Iron Witch Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
870L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Karen Mahoney (United Kingdom) has been published in the anthologies The Eternal Kiss and Kiss Me Deadly (both by Running Press). She has a highly trafficked blog and is also part of a group blog that includes New York Timesbestselling authors. Visit her online at KazMahoney.com.

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The Iron Witch 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
LizTea More than 1 year ago
I really thought I would love this one. From the gorgeous covers, to hot faery boys, to alchemy, I thought this would be the book for me. Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate it by any means, but I didn't necessarily enjoy it either. It was just.incredibly average. Really, I think my main problem with The Iron Witch was that it was too short. It felt underdeveloped. And as much as I've been lamenting the fact that everything is a series now, I was actually glad to hear that there would be more. The world is very interesting, and I'd definitely like a more in-depth look into it all. I loved the use of alchemy - probably my favorite feature of the entire book. While it's made it appearances in other books, it's still not commonly used, and I absolutely love the subject. The little tidbits scattered throughout were really intriguing, and it actually had to googling things to see what all the instruments Donna mentions actually were and what they looked like. I only wish we had seen more of it - but I'm hoping it will be a little more prevalent in later books. I also found the Faerie realm fantastic too. The queen? Creeeepy. The wood elves were very twisted and dark, and not to mention the Skriker. The scene at the end with the Skriker, though short, was pretty B.A. But again, I just felt like we didn't see enough of it. There's no scope on the Faerie. But if I'm being perfectly honest, the reason I didn't like the book so much was actually the main character, Miss Donna Underwood. I just.couldn't like her. Her voice wasn't particularly irritating or anything, but she just felt so blank. I mean, her arms are covered in iron/silver tattoos, she has super strength, her father died defending her, her mother's crazy, and she's been taken out of school for "the Incident". I was expecting feisty, angry, and maybe a little bent on vengeance. I mean, I'd want to learn everything I could about battling the dark fey that tore my family apart and almost killed me, wouldn't you? But no, she mopes and whines about not having a normal life, and only occasionally visits her mentally addled mom. The only spark we get from her is when confronted the high school queen bee, and at the very end. And while Xan, her main love interest, is definitely a swoon-worthy half-faerie with a dark past the scars to prove it, I didn't really understand their draw. Donna is an alchemists, and alchemists do not like anything from Faerie is how I took it. Yet she just instantly trusts this boy above her own people, and says nothing to her superiors, or even her remaining family member. While I can see that there is maybe something a little shady going on with the alchemists, I didn't understand her choice to not tell them anything when she finds out that (spoiler here!) the wood elves have been snatching people and taking their places all over town. Even taking the place of their best inventor! This means powerful wood elf magic - something the alchemists definitely should know about. And seriously, can we give Donna the worst friend award? Navin (who is so obviously in love with her it's ridiculous) is kidnapped by the elves, and on their way to go rescue him, she can't stop daydreaming about Xan. Her best friend for most of her entire life has been kidnapped by nasty elves, held hostage, and may be undergoing unspeakable torture. But she's daydreaming about kissing Xan, and has to snap herself back into concentrating on the emergency at hand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite fairy books.  I love the beginning and you never know the turns it will take.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rip off of the iron feybseries
Book_Addict_ More than 1 year ago
Love! This book is very different from my usual Morganville Vampires and Immortals books. I felt like I could connect with the main character, Donna Underwood, because the author so vividly described her pain and suffering and love for Xan. In addition to being able to connect with the characters, I really enjoyed having something other than vampires and more vampires (it seems the topic of blood-sucking creatures is dominating our books these days) such as the more complex and sophisticated workings of the Alchemists. Overall, I completely fell in love with this book series and can't wait to read the next one!
LindaFictionFervor More than 1 year ago
I was actually pretty disappointed with The Iron Witch. The idea the book was based on was so intriguing, and yet the book itself fell flat. Donna is an alchemist. And not the changing-things-to-gold alchemist, the killing-pesky-fairies-on-earth alchemist. And not just any killing-pesky-fairies-on-earth alchemist. Others expect her to be a child prodigy, considering that she’s the daughter of two fantastic alchemists. Even though her father is dead and her mother has probably gone crazy. Her mother went crazy after Donna’s father died in an accident. Not a car accident. An accident caused by the fairies. And this accident has left Donna with arms made of iron. Repaired by the alchemists, her arms have made her superman-strong. So when the fairies kidnap her best friend Navin, you’d expect her to be kick-butt strong. She isn’t. Though strong, Donna definitely isn’t kick-butt. Being kick-butt means being smart, strong, and fearless. Donna is not smart at times. She’s pretty idiotic. (I’d love to give examples as to why she’s so incredibly stupid, but that would take paragraphs.) And though she has strong down, she is not fearless. And whereas Donna annoyed me so much, Xan was a relief. Xan is definitely one of those hot boys that you can’t help but swoon a little bit over (yes, I have a mild crush on him), but he’s also pretty fearless. More than Donna, at least. And though Xan sort of has a “haunted past,” there’s also something about Xan that makes him pretty special. That something is the part that I made white in the synopsis. Because it’s obviously a spoiler. Oh, boy, I hate spoilers in synopses. And Navin? Oh, I love Navin. Although I’m Team Xan without a doubt, Navin is awesome. Because he’s her best friend and one of the only people she cares about. He’s Indian, too, which definitely gives him bonus points in my mind, purely because I love nerdy best friends. I don’t know if Karen Mahoney plans to make a love triangle with Donna, Xan, and Navin in it; but frankly, I don’t really believe Donna deserves to have two boys after her. (Yes, I don’t like Donna that much.) I’d say Xan and Navin were the only things that kept me reading this book. Because I just love hot boys and Indian best friends. Things I’d like to say about the book? These are only minor details, but I still feel that I should voice my thoughts. I’m a grammar Nazi (though I write pretty casually in my reviews). I’m pretty sure that I’ve already established that several times. Anyway, the writing in this book was decent, but I did reach this one sentence that had me gaping in horror. “Who’d’ve thunk it?” Seriously? “Who’d’ve”? I slightly understand that one because this word has become slang among teenagers these days, but then “thunk”? THUNK? I am incredibly sad now. Another thing. Navin’s parents let Navin and Donna stay in a bedroom with no supervisors. Though that might seem pretty normal to you Americans, I’m not used to that. Remember, I’m Chinese? Chinese and Indian parents are pretty strict with schoolwork and dating. Yes, so that’s just a little bit hard to believe that they could stay in Navin’s bedroom for a pretty long time without supervisors. Even if Navin’s parents trusted both of them enough, it’s just too outrageous for my ears to believe. I know it was necessary for the book because Donna had to tell Navin some important things, but still. Highly improbable. And lastly, this is the thing that bothered me most about the book. The ending is so sudden. It’s pretty much an anticlimax. All of a sudden, Donna tells us in a sort of epilogue (spoiler!) that she’s going on trial. Wow. It’s like, “Oh, hey, I’m going on trial! See you in the next book!” I practically forgot that she was even going to trial. That bad. The Iron Witch was a frustrating read for me. At times, it was too predictable, and then at other times it was too improbable, and then at other times it was too sudden. Though I had general liking for the characters (except for Donna), the plot wasn’t the most intriguing that it could be. I felt as if Karen Mahoney could have done more with the incredible idea the book was based on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cant wait for next book!
BooksWithBite More than 1 year ago
I totally love magical stories. You know the ones where you are fighting fairies, running through a forest and searching for your prince charming? I loved this book. I loved the storyline. If anything, it made me feel like I was child again, reading such a magical story that it comes to life right before my eyes. One thing I enjoyed about this book was the storyline. It was filled with lots of heart breaking pasts, a frightful future, and a friendship worth fighting for. The plot not only took you in, but continued to build up so much so that it left you flipping the pages faster and faster. I also adored the great paranormal twist to the book. It has alchemist in it. It not seen very much in books, but I am glad that in this book it s described well. The characters, I enjoyed reading. Donna and Navin had a great friendship. I love that their friendship was real. They had something that was built over time and not even elves can ruin that. The love interest I adored. I like that Zan was there for Donna and help her through everything. It was delight to see such a fresh love grow before your eyes. The Iron Witch was an delightful read. Filled with non-stop action of the fey, alchemy and a great fights, this is one book that kept me entertain. I look forward to reading the next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
HonestReader More than 1 year ago
Not as good as I hoped. Great story  could have taken off but shallow characters that didn't really develop throughout the book. with only 200 pages not a lot happened and everythiing was pretty easy for the main character despite all her constant whining. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book had a good story but it was just so full of the cheesy paranormal teen romance plot that it got kind of silly, I couldn't take it seriously. My tween sister really liked, but I think the story has been done too many times to be considered a good read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked it but i got lost a lot
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Emma_Ayala More than 1 year ago
This book has a beautiful cover and that is why I read it if I am honest. The story seemed pretty cool as well, but I found that the author didn't know how to capture the attention of the reader. Let me explain. First of all, the pace of the book was slow. I found myself zoning out and wanting to read ahead or skip some parts because, honestly, they seemed pretty useless. The book could have been seriously better. I mean my expectations were high because, come one, a "secret alchemist society"? Sound major cool, doesn't it? Well, it should be! But the author instead bored me with unwanted details and boring facts, instead of making it a magical and interesting world. Another thing was that it was the world of the fey. Fey! They are strange and amazing creatures but once again I was disappointed because Mahoney only mentions these "wood elves" creatures that are completely unoriginal. She could have done a much better job with this book. The idea was amazing; she simply didn't develop it correctly. It doesn't mean I won't read the second one. I simply will set my expectations lower.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is a Iron fey series by Julie Kagawa this is a ripoff