Review – Cold Iron by D. L. McDermott

cold iron by DL McDermottPublisher: Pocket Star
Publish Date: February 10, 2014
How I got this book: eARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley

The Fae, the Good Neighbors, the Fair Folk, the Aes Sídhe, creatures of preternatural beauty and seduction. Archaeologist Beth Carter doesn’t believe in them. She’s always credited her extraordinary ability to identify ancient Celtic sites to hard work and intuition—until she discovers a tomb filled with ancient treasure but missing a body. Her ex-husband, the scholar who stifled her career to advance his own, is unconcerned. Corpses don’t fetch much on the antiquities market. Gold does. Beth knows from past experience that if she isn’t vigilant, Frank will make off with the hoard.

So when a man—tall, broad shouldered, and impossibly handsome—turns up in her bedroom claiming to be the tomb’s inhabitant, one of mythic god-kings of old Ireland, Beth believes it is a ploy cooked up by her ex-husband to scare her away from the excavation.

But Conn is all too real. Ancient, alien, irresistible, the Fae are the stuff of dreams and nightmares, their attentions so addictive their abandoned human lovers wither and die. And this one has fixed his supernatural desire on Beth.
*Blurb from Goodreads*

I have serious mixed feelings about this book.

On one side, the plot and worldbuilding were cool. We have an archaeologist with the talent for finding faery mounds and burial sites by “dowsing” through a map. And then she finds a burial mound that is still in use, because the fae folk, sometimes known as the Aes Sidhe or the Tuatha de Danaan, were not just real but a few of them are still around.

And they are not nice faeries; they are terrible and beautiful. The story even makes a nod to the Disneyfication of the fae by explaining that we created those sweet stories to explain away the original amoral versions.

Even the idea that the ancient Druids were not just real, but actually the enemies, make that the downright nemesis, of the fae, was an interesting concept.

However, when it got down to the actual hero and heroine, there were more than a few things that bothered me.

A lot.

Beth Carter, our heroine, is the archaelogist. She’s tremendously talented, but her entire career has been sabotaged by her ex-husband, who charms everyone else, but seriously abused her. Physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, you name it, he did it. And he’s still dealing out career abuse right, left and center, and she’s still taking that part.

I know academic politics are vicious, but that she never completely broke away set my teeth on edge.

And when she discovers the fae mound that contains the hero, Conn, things get even crazier. Because of course he’s instantly attracted to her, but because she’s suffered so much abuse she has completely buried her sexual impulses. And Conn has just the magic to “cure” her of all her trauma. The magic peen strikes again.

There’s even an element of the magic va-jay-jay, because Beth turns out to be the first woman who has ever made him feel anything emotional in centuries.

Then it turns out that Beth is a druid, even though she doesn’t know it. Her power is supposed to be so awesome, except that someone needs to die for her to come into her power. In the plot, it seems that she gets pregnant just so that she can have a miscarriage in the climax of the story and use the innocent sacrifice to gain her powers.

Beth just gets traumatized way too much and often, but Conn loving her cures all.
But while Beth keeps taking abuse, and getting kidnapped and drugged (again, her ex pulled that trick before) there’s the story of the fae living in the modern world, how they survive, and that some of them will do anything to bring the old ways back.

The secondary characters in the story were often more interesting than the main characters., Particularly the sorceror Miach who has sired a whole clan of half-fae and is the gang lord of South Boston. (I think his story is the next book in the series, and I want to read it)

However, the way that Beth gets not just beaten, but beaten up at every turn hit too many triggers for me. It’s great that she got past everything, but there was too much everything. I liked the plot, but not the way the heroine started out as a victim and kept getting victimized.

I give Cold Iron a C.

Comments

  1. says

    Hold on there…she gets pregnant, loses the baby, and that’s what gets her her powers? but it’s alright, because this god loves her?

    And she’s human, he’s immortal…how’s that going to work in the long term again?

    The worldbuilding sounds interesting, but the story doesn’t come across as a romance to me.

    And don’t get me started on the victim breaking off with the abuser and yet still being a victim. Yes, I’m sure the field if pretty limited at the higher levels of research, but by the same token, wouldn’t people know at least some of what the ex has done to her, and done in general? and if they do, would they let him within five miles of this dig? That sounds problematic to me, charm or not charm.

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  2. Marlene says

    I couldn’t stop reading the damn thing, so it gets points for compulsion.
    Losing her baby to gain her powers wasn’t all right in the story. But her options at the time were to take her powers or die herself. She lost the baby because she was being poisoned and beaten. She gets captured and beaten a lot.
    It did feel like the author got her knocked up just so there would be a sacrifice when she was at death’s door. It’s not all right at all in the story.
    And her ex’ charm turned out to have supernatural origins. People couldn’t help themselves from believing him. But he still set my teeth on edge.

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  3. says

    Charming ex: so it’s a bit of deus ex machina, then?

    Miscarriage: what I meant is that it was too obvious a plot device–get her pregnant so she can get her powers on her baby’s death.

    Also, I just read a review for this over at Fiction Vixen and found myself amazed that the miscarriage is not mentioned, at least as a potential trigger.

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