Author: Tina Connolly
Genre: Fairy Retellings, Paranormal
Publication Date: October 2, 2012 (Tor – North America)
Source: Finished copy from the publisher/NetGalley Review Copy
Summary: Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.
It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin.
When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation”—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.
Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio…and come out as beautiful as the fey.
Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.
☆: 4/5 stars – an absolutely awesome retelling!
Review: This one was a nice change of pace. The original “Jane Eyre” wasn’t quite my cup of tea, but to see it reworked like this was pretty awesome. And I’m really glad it’s more than one book long, because this book is basically one huge set up for whatever’s going to happen next. The faerie/steampunk influence wasn’t too shabby, neither. If you’re looking for a change of pace from your regular retellings, I think that “Ironskin” may just be your book.
One thing that bothered me the most was: the sense of almost-insta-love with Rochart, and the fact that the romance between them once it got started did feel somewhat natural but overall, felt a bit flat. I love how angry Jane was all the time (that is her curse, after all), and she seemed to interact/react more with Dorie and the the help of the house way more than she did with Rochart.
However, the rest of it – the worldbuilding, the characters, the plot, and the sensory imagery and language were absolutely gorgeous.
The worldbuilding: Alternate timeline where we’ve been going to the fey (and is later revealed, the dwarves) for technology, and we eventually go to war with them instead of getting involved with WWI. Everything is still healing, things are still being rationed five years on (though it seems to be the last of the rationing), and all of the things that were the rage in fashion and technology before the Fey War are pretty much defunct. Humanity has been set back a great deal, because, as Poole puts it so brilliantly, we “let the fey do everything” for us. The characters weave somewhat well back into the world – not perfectly, but Connolly really did her best, so it worked for me. It felt completely believable. And the characters mostly felt real, so I won’t go into too much detail there, but they fit the bill really well. Dorie and Jane were awesome together, and were definitely sympathetic characters I could identify with.
The sensory language was simply sumptuous. I could taste the cakes, feel the fabric of the slinky ’20s dresses the women were wearing, feel the cold of the forest, see the blue lights everywhere, and hear the music. All of it was simply lovely and really helped connect the characters to the world.
What really got me interested in the world the most were the curses and how the fey went into battle – they have no substantial bodies of their own, so they throw a bomb (that apparently throws out curses instead of just shrapnel when it explodes) on out to a bunch of humans, then inhabit their dead bodies. So we get faerie zombies! That was pretty terrifying. And then the idea of an infectious curse – well, that just gave me the chills. How the iron helps keep in the curse didn’t help those chills very much either, when we see how Dorie is affected once she gets her gloves. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s just absolutely heartbreaking to see.
Final verdict? A lot of Bronte fans don’t like seeing their originals messed with, but even if you are a diehard Bronte fan, I still strongly suggest you take a look at this reboot because it’s pretty great. “Ironskin” is out now from Tor in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!