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The Iron Witch (The Iron Witch Series) Paperback – February 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From 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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Fifteen-year-old Donna�called �Iron Witch� by the foul wood elves because of the fusion of iron, silver, and flesh on her forearms�reluctantly reveals her identity as the youngest member of the alchemical Dragon Order, first to her best friend, Navin, and then to the more enigmatic Alexander. The reappearance of the elves in the contemporary world means something is seriously amiss, and when Navin is kidnapped, Donna discovers that his ransom is the last vial of the order�s Elixir of Life. Donna�s family history is compelling, but the present thread of her story suffers from slow pacing and a lack of any strong sense of urgency. A potential love triangle offers readers a way to bond with the main characters, despite its predictable outcome. However, some secondary characters show promise as future bad seeds in what may be more gripping sequels in this proposed trilogy. Hand this book to fans of Melissa Marr. Grades 6-9. --Cindy Welch

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 870L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Iron Witch Series (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Flux; Original edition (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 073872582X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738725826
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,185,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
THE IRON WITCH throws readers right into the middle of the story using numerous vague references to The Incident that got her kicked out of school and a traumatic childhood experience that left her an orphan. Normally, I like stories that allow me to dive right into to the good stuff, but in THE IRON WITCH I feel like an opportunity was missed to tell what arguably is the most interesting parts of Donna's story. Skipping past all that left me confused for the first third of the book and wrongly wondering if I hadn't missed an earlier book/novella.

Another side effect of beginning THE IRON WITCH when it does is that there is a rather lengthy info dump passage that we have to trudge through that somehow makes what really is a very interesting alchemy society and fey mythology seem dull. The alchemy does become more interesting as the book goes along and I can see it taking on an even more captivating role in future books.

I was also surprised by the choice to primarily use 3rd person POV for most of the book. There are a few journal entries from Donna which are written in 1st person POV and are easily the best parts of THE IRON WITCH. The 3rd person POV left me feeling a bit detached from the main characters, a feeling that wasn't helped by how prone they all were to wallowing in self pity constantly.

Despite the criticism above, there is a lot to like in THE IRON WITCH. Donna is essentially a magical bionic woman with her iron laced arms and the romance that sparks between her and Xan is genuine and sweetly romantic. There are a number of questions left unanswered at the end and plenty of hints dropped about possible betrayals and misplaced loyalties that should give this series life for several books to come. Bottom line, if you love Julie Kagawa's The Iron Fey series, you'll love THE IRON WITCH.

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By CRISTY on February 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
THE IRON WITCH.. I really wanted to enjoy this book more then I did. Now to clarify, where the problems I had with the book did not ly with the characters or even the plot it's self.. infact I found the premise of a girl with magically enhanced hands to be quite unique. Mahoney did a great job, in my opinion, creating a cast of appealing characters who's relationships were nicely entwined as well as complicated.

So the issues I had with THE IRON WITCH were in regards to all the seemingly unnecessary build up and filler, which make up the majority of the book's content.. where not a lot happens and I found my self skimming the pages to get through the minutia and get back to the actual plot. By the end of the story, it is obvious there will be another installment of THE IRON WITCH to follow and maybe this is the reason for all the excess information. With the likable characters and the involved setup, my hope is that the next book will be a stronger read and I'm willing to stick with Mahoney on this one and give the series a chance.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amanda on February 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
For as long as she can remember, Donna Underwood has been labeled a freak. When she was seven years old, her father died protecting her and, in order to heal her damaged arms -as well as protect her from dark elves -her arms were tattooed with silver decorations through alchemy. Now living with her Aunt, Donna has grown into a teenager, living with the knowledge that her family is connected to a secret order of alchemists. Donna has few friends, mostly Navin, a long-time guy friend who may be something more. Then she meets Xan, who may be more than he seems. When Navin is kidnapped by dark elves, Donna and Xan must save him before it's too late...

For me, The Iron Witch almost felt like it can be divided into two parts: the wordy world-building part and the action part (which was actually interesting). Basically, about three-quarters of the book are what I would consider to be "wordy world-building." Thought there is some basic setting and character introductions, the majority of this section felt like it was purely world-building and introduction into the alchemy world and the Iron Witch's mythology. While the mythology and world Mahoney has created is fascinating and unique, it seemed like she dedicated all of her time to getting readers up to speed on alchemy, dark elves and faeries rather than advancing the plot or building her characters. In fact, Donna and Xan spend pages upon pages just talking about all the paranormal elements in the novel, with the majority of it being Xan asking Donna questions about herself and her strange world, with Donna giving straight answers -I felt like I was reading some kind of interview rather than a novel.

The last quarter of the novel, however, was considerably better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MJ Letourneau on April 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
When I first read the summary for The Iron Witch, I thought it sounded interesting and was intrigued by its promise of a mix between dark woodland fairies and alchemy. Then I read that the author actually got inspired by an article written by author Midori Snyder at the Endicott's Journal of Mythic Art about the fairytale "The Armless Maiden" and its different narratives called "The Armless Maiden and the Hero's Journey". That really got me excited. Anyone who knows, or refers to, the Endicott's Journal of Mythic Art deserves extra points for awesomeness in my book. Unfortunately, I must say, the awesomeness stopped there.

At age seven, Donna Underwood went through a nightmarish attack from the dark elves that killed her father and left her mother mad. It also left her almost fatally injured. Her survival was only due to the alchemical arts possessed by The Order of the Dragon's members to whom her parents belonged, which gave her iron and silver tattoos on her hands and arms. Now living with her aunt and ostracized from school the only thing helping Donna get through her days is her best friend Navin. But the dark elves are coming back into the city and are looking for something that she might possess ,and when they kidnap Navin, Donna will risk everything to get him back.

I am going to be honest here and say that I generally do not quite like YA paranormal books, with some exceptions, as I find that they often lack characterization, engaging writing (to me), and are too cliché when it comes to dealing with love stories and love triangles. I was hoping for this book to be different, but it wasn't. Not enough for me anyway.
Let me first start with what I like. I was genuinely intrigued by the world in The Iron Witch.
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