Book Review: The Stone Demon by Karen Mahoney

The Stone Demon is the third young adult book in the Iron Witch trilogy by Karen Mahoney. Donna Underwood is known by many as the Iron Witch. She had been tricked into opening the door to the Demon Realm by the Wood Queen, the faerie queen Aliette. Donna is in the process of being trained in alchemy as the demon king Demian makes is obsession with her clear, and manages to set an ultimatum which no one but him would benefit from. Donna must somehow create and deliver a freshly formed Philosopher's Stone to Demian or those she loves will die. However, if she somehow manages the deadly tasks required to collect the ingredients, form the stone, and hand it over as demanded the world will be at the mercy of the demons. In a no win situation, can Donna find a way to save the world from certain devastation?

First let me say that I have not read the previous books, but aside from taking some extra time to understand the world and some relationships, I still enjoyed the book and did not feel like I lost anything vital in that lack. I think if I had read the previous books I would have enjoyed some of the character interaction and banter more, but the larger plot line and interactions still came together even without the back story.

Now, in The Stone Demon, I have to admit that my favorite characters did not get much play time. I thought that Donna's friends Xan and Navin were the best part of the story. Navin is simply hysterical and offered me humor and fun when I was starting to drift. I was a little annoyed with Donna. She has two days to complete a quest- sends her buddies out to do part of it and somehow everything just seems to fall into place for her. Oh, no one else, even well trained and practiced alchemists have been able to create a new Philosopher's Stone in centuries- she can solve the mystery and do it in less that 48 hours. It just all seemed a little too easy, and I expected more more of a challenge for her, or at least for there to be something that did not get tied up with a pretty little bow at the end. I still enjoyed the book, but felt like Donna could have been smarter, more talented rather than just 'special', in her quest and actions. I much prefer a take charge kind of heroine than one that seems to have things handed to her or spends her time complaining about things.

I would recommend The Stone Demon to readers that have enjoyed the first two books in the Iron Witch trilogy. The story is interesting and the secondary characters are great, but fans of strong female heroines and challenging quests might be disappointed.
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