Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

I really enjoy Underhill-type stories: a faerie world alongside normal earth, crossing over and through "our" world, bringing magic and strangeness into everyday life. A lot of urban fantasy seems to be going that way, and I approve. The problem has become, however, that I GET it (and I'm sure many of the readers of this particular blog are on the same page with me) and I don't need pages of explanation of what's going on to understand the concept.

So keep that in mind as you read this review.

The Iron Witch is about Donna Underwood, a 17-year-old who has been raised by her aunt since her father died ten years ago. Her mother is in a care home, not quite insane but certainly not "right." Their whole family belongs to a society of alchemists who are responsible for protecting humanity from the faery creatures who cross over to Donna's world.

Although I liked the book more than I disliked it, the pacing is slow, with long passages of exposition slowing it down even more. The characters are almost compelling; they are interesting, but there's not quite enough urgency even in the midst of kidnapping and rescue mission to really be gripping.

I think this is best as an introduction to the type of urban fantasy it represents, with enough explanation that even someone who's never picked up a fantasy book will understand everything without any problem. This is the first book in a trilogy, and the unresolved plot threads (Donna's mother's cure, and her upcoming initiation at age 18 into the alchemists' society) promise intriguing developments in books 2 and 3.

If you are looking for more mature or in-depth fantasy, I'd skip this one.

Karen Mahoney's website is here.


  1. I'm in the middle of this one right now. I have to agree with you on the pacing. I'll post more after I finish it.

  2. I have this book, and I haven't read it yet so I have read your blog yet when I finish the book I'll comment. Like the blog about books wee have a lot in common we read.