Posted in Fashionably Late Reviews :)

Review: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

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I went into this with a HUGE amount of trepidation. Here’s the blurb, maybe you’ll pick up on why I was so anxious:

“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.”

So we’re re-doing Jane Eyre are we?

I think Jane Eyre might be my most favourite book of all time (‘might’ be…) so you can imagine how the premise of this might make my hairs stand on end.

I think, based on some really weak research, that Ironskin started as a smashwords thing and later developed into a full-blown novel (bells and whistles and all).

Let me just say: I LOVED IT!

Steampunky, SF friendly, fae using, heart fluttering! And dark, dark, dark …I’m running out of descriptions…

Ok, so here’s what turned me on to this book:

  • Jane’s face – I loved the obvious physical ‘flaw’ this character has and how she has built her way of living and interacting with people around it. She embodies rage! That’s cool!
  • The macabre – This book took a really dark turn about two thirds in. I don’t want to give too much away, but when there becomes a bigger focus on the masks it’s a proper toe curler! I thought ‘yuck’ in the best possible way!
  • The Gothic re-vamped – The steampunk elements mixed with the originally Gothic that Jane Eyre inherits within its pages made for such an interesting hybrid of a genre and mood for a story.
  • The fae aren’t pretty! – Well, they are, but I mean that they’re nasty creatures. Misunderstood perhaps? But still horrible, deceitful things. And I love that! Forget Tinkerbell or the Tooth Fairy, this is how the fae should be. Wild, scary beasts.

And here’s what turned me off:

  • The ending – Another story that starts with a lot of promise, hooks me in, makes me care a lot for the characters… and then totally fizzles out at the end. I realise there is a sequel, but the blurb of Copperhead doesn’t coincide or continue with how Ironskin ends. At all.
  • Jane’s mask – SMALL SPOILER – I wanted her to go back to the same kind of mask she had in the beginning. Not some kind of ‘happily ever after’ flawless thing. Although when she rid herself of the far mask? THAT was GNARLY! And I love that. I just felt like Jane was a better character for her obvious flaw. And more attractive too.

There were moments that made me cringe (the names of characters, for instance) and I wasn’t sure I was totally onboard with Dorie as a spliced version of Bertha and Adele. Mr Rochart was a weird one, he was more like a wild Byron character than the lofty, teasing Rochester. AND WHERE WAS PILOT?! This book needed a dog. Heh heh.

Ironskin has finished off my year in books with real style.

I’m giving it a 2:1 for original re-invention of an old story and for making me really care for Jane, and Dorie too!

I’m looking forward to Copperhead (although a little nervous about being in Helen’s shoes this time).

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YA writer. Epic reader. Professional procrastinator.

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