Author: Tina Connolly
Publishing House: Tor/ Forge
Publication Date: October 2nd 2012
Book Source: NetGalley
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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.
I know I've probably said this about quite a few books I've read so far, but with none of them had it been to this extent: this book was not what I expected. I was completely drawn to the book by the cover, it's absolutely exquisite, and after reading the synopsis I was so interested to read the book. Little did I know how it would turn out.
In the aftermaths of the war involving both Fey and Humans, humans are trying to recover, to go on with their lives and settle in. However, some humans suffered more than others in the Great War, as Jane is now cursed with a scar damaging half her face. The scar is a curse from the fey, giving her an extra round of rage, but what contains her rage from spilling out to other people is the iron mask she wears, referring to herself mostly as ironskin. She wants to lead a somewhat normal life where she's not stared at, so when she finds a governess position for a child that was born in the midst of the Great War, she takes it immediately, thinking she could help some poor child that was cursed like herself. Dorie on the other hand is not cursed in any manner with which Jane is familiar, all she knows is, there was definitely something very wrong with the child. Not only that, but there was something very peculiar about Mr. Rochart's art, his scary masks, and the weird interest people seem to have towards them, not to mention the amount of women parading in and out of his house. Something was very wrong and she didn't know how to solve the mysteries in the house, let alone the increasing amount of nightmares she seems to suffer from.
The book had a very Jane Eyre feel to it, especially with the lead character being called Jane as it is and the man she is working for was called Mr. Rochart , like a dystopian version of Jane Eyre's world. That is, not including the Fey part in the whole thing. I should probably mention that Jane Eyre is one of my absolute favourite classics, so the similarities and play on the story was a most welcome one. The more I read though, the more I enjoyed another twist, this time on Beauty and the Beast. Many people hate twists on stories, and I guess at times it's not so good, but I personally love twists on books I've already read, and fairytales. For example, I love the twist on Cinderella in Marissa Meyer's Cinder. Not to mention a lot of recent fairytale series like Once Upon a Time, Grimm and Beauty and the Beast.
Jane's character was great. I love it when an author creates a sensible main character, she doesn't have to be a conventional beauty that attracts all males in the book. She has to be great as herself, with depth and she has to feel realistic. Which is true in this case, I quite admired the tortured female lead, the pain she had gone through and still suffered from. I felt compassion and understanding towards her and enjoyed the strength and intelligence she exhibited. She brought to mind a quote from Charlotte Brontë to her sisters in regards to her Jane:
" I will prove to you that you are wrong; I will show you a heroine as plain and as small as myself, who shall be as interesting as any of yours."
I wish there was more on Edward and Jane's sister Helen. I wanted more explanations, more depth to their characters, their stories and their histories. But, since it was all based on Jane and her endeavors it would have been hard I guess to get the in-depth on those characters. I had hoped for more explanation on the version of Fey in this book, and the Great War that had taken place, there were little snippets here and there, but not enough to satisfy my rabid curiosity towards them. Maybe there would be more in the upcoming books of this series?
I am always open to reading new books with new ideas and sometimes new genres, but there are specific things that make a book appeal to me, like use of mythology and legends, the use of fairytales, the added mystery and intrigue, the amount of romance involved, the references to different countries, languages and cultures. The more of them I find in a book, the more I am inclined to love the book. Needless to say, I loved this book. I mean, how could I not? The Fey, the Dwarves, the fairytales, the mystery, and the intrigue? Not to mention it had the perfect amount of romance in the midst, not too much but also not nonexistent.
The writing in itself was quite good. It was befitting to the whole atmosphere Tina was trying to portray. It held a bleakness at some point which for the first time I was okay with since it added to the grayness of the aftermaths of this Great War they had just survived. I would highly recommend this book, and personally cannot wait for the other books in this series!
Tina Connolly lives in Portland, Oregon, in a house that came with a dragon in the basement and blackberry vines in the attic. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and the anthology UNPLUGGED: Web's Best SF 2008. Her novel IRONSKIN is out from Tor in Fall 2012, with a sequel in 2013. She is a frequent reader for Podcastle, and narrates the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake. In the summer she works as a face painter, which means a glitter-filled house is an occupational hazard. She likes re-reading books and eating pie for breakfast (preferably at the same time.)