Ironskin by Tina Connolly is a Nebula-nominated retelling of Jane Eyre set in an alternate history where a war against the fey has just come to an end and the technology that depends on fey power is slowly sputtering away. Seriously, you read that right: steampunk Jane Eyre with creepy fey. I was a little bit skeptical if Ironskin could live up to that awesome description but it did not disappoint! I wasn’t a huge Jane Eyre fan when I read it in high school, but Ironskin has made me love Jane Eyre more and kind of want to go reread it….
Note: I borrowed Ironskin from my library because my library is awesome.
Ironskin by Tina Connolly (Ironskin #1)
Published by Tor Books on Oct. 2nd, 2012
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling,Steampunk
Length: 304 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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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.
- Let’s just start with Jane Eyre! Yes yes, we’re all forced to read it in high school, but if you take a step back, it’s a pretty awesome story. Ironskin captures the elements of Jane Eyre that I think high school teachers try to get across, and I actually feel like I understand Jane Eyre a bit better after reading Ironskin. Also, I freaking love Jane Eliot, she’s embodies the things I love about Jane Eyre (spunky, tough, working within a difficult situation and making the best of it, no-nonsense) and adds her own strength due to the fey war. She is a warrior! One of my favorite quotes from Ironskin is from Jane on this topic:
“A defeated warrior is not a victim.”
- The alternative historical setting was so fascinating! There were all sorts of excellent touches such as different names for Shakespeare’s plays because of the tragedy the fey caused. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is A Midsummer Night’s Tragedy, which kind of conveys how people feel about the fey pretty well.
- The creepy elements of Ironskin pulled me in immediately. There is a just right amount of creepy that I can handle. Too much and I go to sleep with nightmares, but Ironskin made me just want to keep reading to try to understand what was going on!
- I am a strong believer that fey should be creepy. I’m not generally a fan of this trend of sexy and nice fey, and Ironskin really gets back to those creepy roots. It’s creepy when a being can seduce and manipulate you but doesn’t consider your life important beyond how entertaining you can be!
- Especially towards the end of Ironskin, there were a couple moments where I just stared at the page and thought “OMG did that just happen??? No way did that actually happen, I must have read it wrong… OMG it did just happen!!!!” I like those moments >.>
- Rochester is called Rochart and Ironskin has the same romantic storyline that Jane Eyre has, which I very much enjoyed. Their interest in each other is subtle because it has to be due to class differences, but then everything comes together at the end when craziness happens!
- There are a number of times when the dialogue doesn’t have character names attached to it and I get so confused. I don’t like needing to go back and try to trace through who said what.
- The ending of Ironskin departs from Jane Eyre quite a bit and it disappointed me since I can see how Ironskin could have continued with the Jane Eyre retelling but just didn’t.
- There are dwarves in Ironskin and they play a fairly important role, but I was kind of meh about them. It seemed an unnecessary addition. Now if there were dragons that appeared…. ;-)
When Ironskin was nominated for the Nebula last year, I thought the cover was gorgeous but said meh to the Jane Eyre retelling. I was so wrong! Ironskin does an amazing job at breathing fresh air into a classic story with some crazy awesome additions in the fey. Also that gorgeous cover, totally an accurate depiction of Jane down to the shoes! I’m so happy that Copperhead appeared in my mailbox, causing me to decide to finally read this series. Seriously, read this book.