Review by Shellie for Ironskin ~ by Tina Connolly
The first in a dark steampunk-ish themed series that is a fantastical re-telling of the classic Jane Eyre. Only it includes fey, dwarves, magic and a creative twist.
About: Set on the moors of an alternative yet familiar England-like world, Jane Elliot is a victim of a Great War against an illusive and ethereal fey. She is horrifically scarred on one side of her face. Covering it with an iron mask is the only way to prevent it’s dark magic from oozing emotions to everyone around her. Sadly, it’s an affliction common to many who have been injured in the war against the fey.
Inevitably life moves forward after the war, and Jane, in an attempt to avoid being a burden on her soon to be married sister, applies for a job as a governess – to the young daughter of the mysterious Edward Rochart, both who have been afflicted by dealings with the fey.
With the large household located near the forest (a known dwelling of the fey), it becomes apparent that there are comings, goings, and complications within the woods; and that perhaps the members of the Rochart household may have dealings within them. And as Jane falls deeply for the much older Mr. Rochart, she soon suspects that he may hold a key to healing her wound. She also discovers that he has more secrets than she wishes to believe, very much like the original Jane Eyre.
Thoughts: First off, I loved, loved, loved Jane Eyre. It was a rare five star for me. Having read it just several months prior to finishing this book made this re-telling even more fun for me. It felt like I was almost re-reading the original, only with a sparser language and with an added fantastical flair. Tina Connolly has a special way of writing which is very surprising and “retro” in flavor. It’s like a modern version of an old fashioned style which is suitable for a Victorian-like time period and similar to the original Jane Eyre. It was very refreshing. I also loved the setting – an alternative England with its lovely green moors that I too have a special connection to. Lastly, Jane Elliot is a strong female character, like the character Jane Eyre, which has a big appeal for me.
The only negative thing that I thought abound the book is that as I was nearing the end, I felt like it was just not going to be long enough. I was actually slightly nervous about it and kept thinking how the author was going to successfully manage to conclude the story without a “drop off the side of a cliff” ending. Or worse yet and impossible “dangler” which leaves the reader stranded. Happily it does have a satisfying conclusion which makes the book a decent stand alone read. But even better, it doesn’t have to be the end since there is a sequel in the works.
Labeled as young adult by a number of reviewers, I do think it will work better for adults. There are dark themes, some violence, and others which are adult in nature (some that teens may not connect well with). However, with its light romance (no sex) and clean language it will work for teens. Recommended especially for readers who enjoy dark fantasy, evil fey and magic set in a familiar world. I devoured this book and give it a 4-star rating. I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel.
Tor Books; October 2012; Hardcover; 304 pages.
This is Tina Connolly’s first novel. She has previously written a number of shorts for a variety of Science Fiction and Fantasy genre magazines. To find out more about the author: