Publisher: Tor Books
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 situations" - 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 secret of her new life - and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.
A big thanks to Tor on netGalley for accepting my request in reading this book early!
From the very first moment I heard about a steampunk, fantasy retelling of Charlotte Bronte's novel Jane Eyre, one of my favourite classics novels of all time, I was straight off gearing up in giddy excitement for this title's release date. I mean, come on everyone! Honestly . . . who isn't up for another story retelling with a small twist to it in a young adult book? I sure as hell wanted to read it ever so desperately!
Apart from the fey who upright disappear out of sight, for those humans who have managed to survive the Great War were altered in some way - in other words cursed - by the fey's fire, infecting its victim by seeping through their wounds that can and will spread to the rest of those they come in close contact with. With every curse it is different and Jane Eliot is proof of that as she was one of those victims infected by the curse of Rage. Shielded from the world with her iron mask, a mask preventing her jaded scars from cursing others close to her, Jane decides to apply for a job taking care of the reclusive Mr. Rochart's daughter, Dorie, in some hope that she could belong somewhere without just being seen as cursed young woman. But when stranger things keep on happening at the estate and when she begins to slowly fall for Mr. Rochart himself, while also becoming intrigued by those ugly women who end up coming out as beautiful from Rochart's studio, Jane knows something is behind those closed doors at her new home and it's up to her to uncover other curses at bay.
Being a hardcore fan of the original Jane Eyre storyline (if you haven't already read it yet then I suggest to go on and read it asap), I have to say the author, Tina Connolly, did a very remarkable job in keeping her readers entertained while also matching up her story to the original work and making her work her own as well. Now I wouldn't necessarily say I was wowed by this book but I did like it a lot because once you got to the second half of the book and got an idea about what was going to happen next to the characters, everything from the seeping curses to the fey to the creepy secret Rochart was forever keeping, just made everything else I read so worth while and I enjoyed every minute of it! Not to mention I found the world-building and the writing itself so fantastic and deliciously dark, and boy I love anything with that Gothic-dark twist to it!
Jane, the main character as previously named in the original book, was a great heroine. She is both strong and uncanny. After losing her parents and her brother at a very young age, only having close contact with another relative of hers, Jane holds herself together pretty well and deals with her fey curse in the best way she knows how to: Keeping ones at arms length. For the majority of the book I felt really, really sorry for her because every time she looked at something beautiful - especially at beautiful women - she would always compare herself and her scars to them, feeling as if she's not worthy of anything at all when really . . . she's the beautiful one on the inside and out. Her soul, her compassion, her ways of living her life, even the way she feels and expresses things just says it all for me. I loved Jane and I only wanted good things for her in the end.
Mr. Rochart, or otherwise known as Edward as he insists Jane to call him as, was a very appealing young man. Sure, I didn't like him so much in the beginning and he was most certainly insufferable and seized every chance that he possibly could to continue being insufferable, but when he continued to elude the mysteries behind his own dark and dangerous past, I just couldn't help but be intrigued by him and wanting to know more and more about his character. But man he really confused me most of the time in the book. Emotionally at least. I mean, on one hand I was beginning to really like him and then on the other hand I didn't but I ended up liking him all over again despite his flaws but . . . damn these hot young men! Also on a side note, I couldn't exactly feel the strong connection lying between Edward (Rochart) and Jane, but the closer I got to the end of the book, the more I could understand their attraction and I'm glad for it. But as for Rochart's daughter, Dorie, well she was definitely a stubborn one . . . you wouldn't believe me if I told you so, but that's what a little child does for you - forever being the stubborn one.
Overall, IRONSKIN contains this great essence of a Victorian fantasy world and manages to recreate something new for an old retelling and the author does a splendid job at that. So even if you haven't read the original book, Jane Eyre, or even if you don't think this is your kind of thing, just be sure to check it out sometime soon and see for yourself what a cool and imaginative world Tina Connolly creates . . . it was needless to say such an awesome debut novel coming from her and I'm looking forward to the sequel next year!
4 1/2 / 5 stars