Ironskin by Tina Connolly
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Length: full (302 pgs)
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by Poppy
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.
It is probably to my benefit that I've not read "Jane Eyre", so didn't realize this was a retelling until long after I was done reading it. I was able to enjoy the book for what it is, and not so much what it wasn't.
Our heroine, Jane, is "ironskin" -- she's been cursed by the fey during the war and uses iron to keep her curse (rage) from bleeding out into others. Let go by her employer now that the war is over and men have returned, she has little choice but to accept a position for a strange recluse, Rochart, to be governess to his daughter.
The book's story intrigued me enough that I read it to the end, but I have to say it wasn't a terribly exciting book. If not for being attached to characters (especially the very clever Poule) and wondering what was going to happen to Dorie, I might not have finished it at all. The writing was well done, but the story tended to drag. Every so often, something would happen to perk me back up, and turn pages to find out what happened, but it wasn't consistent and much of the book had a "day-to-day" feel.
I wish we'd gotten to know our hero more as well. Though this wasn't written in first person, it might as well have been, as we spend no time in anyone's head but Jane's. I think this weakened the story some and created distance between the reader and other characters, especially Rochart.
I did like Jane. She was strong, determined, intelligent and overall a good heroine. She loves loyally, and seldom gives up if she knows her course is right, no matter what. She has much to overcome and there are many times she might have given up and taken an easier course, but she does not. Truly an admirable person.
While I was pleased it ended up being a love story of sorts, I wasn't entirely sold on the depth of emotion between Jane and Rochart. They spent almost no time together and many times Rochart was less than charming, but still, I imagine their relationship will grow more believable as this story is continued. And, ultimately, this wasn't really a romance anyway. It was more a mystery and an adventure. A journey for Jane as she became the person she was meant to be.
While this may not have been the best book I've read, it introduced a storyline intriguing enough that I'll pick up the next book in the series to see where it leads. While many questions were answered and tasks completed, more were introduced, especially at the end when things were happening at a fast and furious speed and I look forward to seeing where they lead.