Copperhead by Tina Connolly is the second book in the Ironskin series, set in a Victorian-era world where fey definitely exist, traded with humans for a while and then decided to wage war against them. Copperhead focuses on a different main character than Ironskin: Helen, Jane’s sister. Copperhead has the feel of both a companion novel, since Helen’s perspective is so different from Jane’s, and a sequel, since it tells of the consequences of the fey masks that a hundred women wore at the end of Ironskin. While Ironskin was a loose retelling of Jane Eyre, Copperhead is not a retelling of any classic, which also gives it a bit of a different feel.
Note: I received Copperhead from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Copperhead by Tina Connolly (Ironskin #2)
Published by Tor Books on Oct 15th, 2013
Genres: Adult, Historical Fantasy
Length: 304 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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Helen Huntingdon is beautiful—so beautiful she has to wear an iron mask. Six months ago her sister Jane uncovered a fey plot to take over the city. Too late for Helen, who opted for fey beauty in her face—and now has to cover her face with iron so she won’t be taken over, her personality erased by the bodiless fey.
Not that Helen would mind that some days. Stuck in a marriage with the wealthy and controlling Alistair, she lives at the edges of her life, secretly helping Jane remove the dangerous fey beauty from the wealthy society women who paid for it. But when the chancy procedure turns deadly, Jane goes missing—and is implicated in the murder.
Meanwhile, Alistair’s influential clique Copperhead—whose emblem is the poisonous copperhead hydra—is out to restore humans to their “rightful” place, even to the point of destroying the dwarvven who have always been allies.
Helen is determined to find her missing sister, as well as continue the good fight against the fey. But when that pits her against her own husband—and when she meets an enigmatic young revolutionary—she’s pushed to discover how far she’ll bend society’s rules to do what’s right. It may be more than her beauty at stake. It may be her honor...and her heart.
- Copperhead has a large feminist movement element. Since it’s set in an alternative Victorian era, it starts with the same gender-role dynamics that you would expect, but the women of Copperhead develop a large amount of independence and confidence. They realize that they are capable of leaving the men that forced them into fey masks in the first place and that they don’t need to conform to traditional gender roles. There are also a couple of examples of women that were already breaking the gender role they were assigned by becoming actresses and wearing trousers!
- Helen seemed rather shallow in Ironskin, but we find out in Copperhead just how much of an act she was putting on. Helen is such a wonderfully deep character, pulled between the very real expectations of society to be a perfectly demure woman and the desire for freedom and happiness. The development that she goes through in Copperhead is a wonderful example of how a more feminine heroine can stay true to the real aspects of her character (such as loving fashion), while still becoming independent and strong.
- The writing of Copperhead very much fits the time setting. It is pleasant and very much got me in the right mindset for the Victorian world in which Copperhead takes place.
- I freaking love the alternative history that Connolly has created. She continues to drop in awesome little twists, such as Lady MacDeath instead of Lady MacBeth. It’s funny how many little things would likely change if fey made their presence known instead of only being fairytales!
- There are a couple of plot reveals that weren’t OMG PLOT TWIST, but were still unexpected and fun. This goes back to the feel of Copperhead; it wouldn’t have been appropriate for there to be a huge crazy plot twist, and so the subtle reveals fit just perfect.
- While I generally enjoyed the writing of Copperhead, the pacing can be described as languid from time to time. There just isn’t all that much action in Copperhead, since much of the book relies on wheeling and dealing and scheming.
- Helen, while I adore her generally, at times frustrated me due to her lack of confidence. She makes these great leaps and then misplaces her backbone here and there and I felt like she needed someone to snap their fingers in her face and remind her just how much she had already accomplished.
- There is a bit of a love triangle, which at first didn’t seem like a big deal, and then Helen went and made it a real thing. This is another moment where I wanted her to snap out of it.
- I really enjoyed that Ironskin was a retelling of Jane Eyre and it feels weird for Copperhead not to be a retelling. They just don’t fit together as nicely in my brain ya know?
If you enjoyed Ironskin, definitely pick up Copperhead. If you weren’t a fan of the retelling aspect of Ironskin but enjoyed the rest, definitely pick up Copperhead ;-). It was so cool getting another perspective (and Copperhead really couldn’t have been told from Jane’s perspective >.>) and getting to see a lot more of this world since Copperhead takes place completely in the city. I’m really curious now to see what perspective the third book is told from and if it goes back to the retelling roots. Also these covers are gorgeous and once again accurate! *pets*