The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney, Flux, 2011. ISBN: 9780738725826. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.
Donna Underwood is missing important things—her father, who was killed in a vicious Fae attack when she was seven, her mother who lost her mind when the attack happened, and any hope of feeling normal, or being treated that way due to the damage to her hands. That happened during the attack that killed her dad. She’s been raised by an odd partnership, living with a woman she calls her aunt, while being protected and closely watched by an odd and secretive pair of men leading a mysterious, magical order whose members included her parents.
Her hands were badly damaged by a magical creature that was controlled by wood elves living in our world who are arch enemies of the order. Maker, a tinkerer and researcher member of the order, repaired her hands, which now consist of a blend of flesh and silver, so she wears gloves most of the time to hide them. It was the relentless harassment from another girl at school that caused her to lose restraint and show how powerful she could be. Ever since, she’s been involved in a mostly home-schooled routine.
If it wasn’t for her best friend and next door neighbor, Navin, she’d go stir crazy. When he invites her to a party, she’s ambivalent at first, but boredom and lack of contact with other teens motivates her to go.
It’s there she meets Xan, part Fae who feels an instant connection to her. While she’s wary of him and the mysterious vibes he gives off, her curiosity and attraction to him are stronger. Before long, they’re forced to partner when the wood elves kidnap Navin. Getting him back involves stealth, bravery and the shock that accompanies discovering people aren’t who you believed they are.
This is a dandy beginning to a solid urban fantasy series for teens. I really enjoyed it and am awaiting a copy of the next book. This is a great choice for any library where teen readers like carefully crafted fantasy.