Review: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Written By: Kellie - Sep• 29•12


Publisher: Tor Books
Publish Date: October 2nd, 2012
Source: ARC received via publisher

Rating: 3/5 Fae Scars

Synopsis: 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. -Goodreads

Review of Ironskin originally posted at Geek Speak Magazine.

I didn’t realize until after I had finished reading Ironskin that it was inspired by Jane Eyre, written by Charlotte Brontë—it is certainly far from a direct interpretation. If the idea of Jane Eyre in an iron mask gets you all kinds of excited, be sure to go into this read with an open mind. Retellings can be hard to tackle (and even harder to read) and I don’t think Tina Connolly quite managed to capture all of the magic found in the original story; there here are all kinds of interesting concepts in this book, from the awesome to the grotesque, but it’s not for everyone.

Ironskin is set in an alternate history version of our own world, where World War I was fought against the fey, who have no bodies of their own but our able to inhabit our dead in order to fight their battles. Creepy. The story is set several years after the war, while society is still trying to recover and war victims are cursed with fey abilities. Great imagination went into shaping this book and the end result is a steampunk type world full of beautiful dresses, elegant gentlemen and technology powered by essence of fey.

I have no idea how this book ended up being classified as a Young Adult title. Jane, the main character is 21 years old, with a full time job focused around raising a child. She has already been through so much, and in no way does she read as a young character, still figuring out who she is, though this is not to say she doesn’t experience real growth throughout the course of the book. Jane is well written and it is easy to get inside of her head to understand what it is she wants. I was rooting for her from page one.

Admittedly, the romantic aspect of the book came off as somewhat forced, rather than something the characters grew into. Jane barely spends any time with this book’s version of Mr. Rochester before deciding she loves him, and shortly after that she decides she is not good enough for this mysterious, absentee father of a man. Edward was far from swoon-worthy and he and Jane had very subtle chemistry – still, their romance didn’t seem out of place for the time period.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Jane and her charge Dorie is so much fun to watch unfold. Not only do they both have to learn to trust each other, but it is obvious to the reader early on that Jane can learn a lot from this strange little girl. I love reading about oddball children who are more than they appear to be and Dorie fit that niche perfectly.

The best part of this book was easily the climax and ending, but I won’t give too much away. Things tend to lag a bit through the middle, but it’s well worth sticking it out to see how this story comes together. By the end of Ironskin, I was satisfied. It looks like there is going to be a sequel, but it doesn’t feel all that necessary. Either way, this is worth picking up if you’re looking for a read full of both magic and class.

Buy the book @Amazon (US) @Amazon (CAN) @The Book Depository

Second Opinions:
@Forever 17 Books 
@My Book Bindings
@Book-Marks the Spot

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