That's what they call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood at Ironbridge High School. A horrific fey attack that killed her father when she was just a child left Donna branded with iron tattoos that cover her hands and arms - and magically enhanced strength, that she now does all she can to hide.
Now, after ten years of wishing for a normal life, Donna finally accepts her role in the centuries-old war against the darkest outcasts of Faerie - the dark elves. Aided by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout, Donna must save her best friend's life - and that means betraying one of the world's greatest secrets and confronting the very thing that destroyed her family.
Donna is different from other teenagers. After being attacked by wood elves, her arms are repaired by an alchemist using metal which gives her great strength and a hint of magic. Expelled from school for using her strength against a school bully, her only friend is nerdy Navin who she keeps all her secrets from until the wood elves start to appear again. Now Donna has to put her faith in Xan, a young man with his own secrets who also wants to defeat the wood elves.
I first read this years ago and liked it and I wanted to go back and read it again before deciding whether or not to continue with the series. My tastes have changed quite a lot in the last three years and I am staying away from young adult books for the most part now so it was going to be interesting to see if my opinion of the book changed. In fact, my opinion didn't change that much from my first experience.
I liked Donna. She has been through a lot of trauma, losing her father and watching her mother go mad, raised by her strict aunt who wants her to join the alchemists, which she doesn't want to do. She has to hide her magical scars and strange talents from everyone, which marks her out as a freak, leaving her bullied and miserable. Her only friend is Navin, who is such a lovely guy, the kind of person you would want as your friend. I liked him and a part of me thought that he and Donna would have made a good couple if she had opened her eyes to the prospect, instead of her obsession with Xan. I didn't dislike Xan but he wasn't as interesting as Navin was. I know that this sounds like horrible love triangle territory but it doesn't really feel like it when you're reading it, compared to other YA books. It is vital in a book for me to like my MC and I certainly liked Donna and felt sympathy for what she has gone through.
The plot was interesting. I'm not a huge fan of the fae in books but I did find the evil wood elves interesting, and it didn't go overboard with the fairy court stuff that I generally get tired of! There was enough for the story to work and that was ok with me. I think the book had a good balance of action and information, to give you what you needed to know and to provide the entertainment. The book had good cohesion and the story flowed nicely. I also liked that there wasn't a heavy overdose of romance as that is part of what is putting me off YA paranormal these days.
I still enjoyed reading this book second time round. I do feel that I have moved beyond the YA zone with my reading and went on to more action based books in the apocalypse genre. However I can still appreciate this as one of the best examples of its genre and I would recommend it to the fans of YA paranormal.