release date: February 8th, 2011
paperback, 290 pages
intended audience: Young adult
source: from publisher for honest review
description: Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.
When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.Review: For whatever reason, I had a hard time really connecting with this story. It started out a bit slow and didn't really have anything that made it stand out from other stories out there. The premise was interesting: you have a girl with iron hands that give her extraordinary strength. She is connected to the mysterious world of alchemy and magic, where the four alchemical sects are working to discover the elixir of life and at war with the secret world of elves and fairies. All of this was interesting, but you never got indepth enough about any of this to fully draw you into the story. I kept waiting to hear more about the alchemists and Donna's part in their world, or more about the elves and what was happening to their world. You get hints and small details here and there, on the surface, and I kept expecting to be let in on the secrets as the book went on, but in the end, it felt a little hollow.
I did really enjoy the friendship between Donna and Navin. They had a good, easy-going, loyal camaraderie. Lots of witty banter between the two. The meat of the story is about the elves kidnapping Navin and Donna's plight to rescue him. While this part was suspenseful and exciting, Navin's disappearance doesn't happen until well into the second half of the book. There is, of course, the mysterious love interest with a cool name, Xan. I love the way they meet up on the roof, both hiding from the wild party below. And although I thought the "so-into-you" factor happens a little too instantly, I did like the dynamic of their relationship. It was kind of give and take, and I was glad to see Donna find someone she could share her secrets with. I did not, however, like the fact that, Donna flares up in jealousy at the mere mention of another girls name. They barely know each other, he's just opening up to her, and he can't even say another girls name without Donna getting jealous? And then there is the token mean girl and her posse who mercilessly harass our protagonist and call her "freak"--- it was fun watching Donna put her in her place once or twice. :)
I also liked the interjected journal entries from Donna. With the rest of the story being told in third person, I felt those were needed to really get some insight on her feeling toward everything that was going on around her. However, the quick switches from first to third person perspective made the story feel a little choppy to me.
While this book wasn't my favorite, it was good, and I'll be interested to see if we get a little more detail into the mysterious world as the series continues.
Visit Karen Mahoney's site here.
Read the first two chapters here.
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