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 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 are true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of a new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.
©2012 Christina Marie Connolly (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I love to read. I also love to write. I'm a harsh critic and very, very, very rarely give five star reviews to anything. Three stars for me is an average representation of literature and not a bad review by any stretch.
I think that the story in Ironskin is told very well from a writing standpoint. The prose is very tight and conveys character and their emotions very well. Jane as the point of view character is able to portray the world around her well.
However, while the story is well told, the story itself does suffer at times. It is a very slow developing tale, which is mostly about Jane and her relationship with Dorie and how the two struggle against one another until the end. Jane’s romantic interest in Edward seems borderline shallow, only stemming from the fact that he touched her and that she was starved for someone to make even the most innocuous of contact with her. Since she is fey-cursed, apparently not many people do that. That’s the way I felt anyway.
I’ve seen this book billed as steampunkish in nature, but there really isn’t much of that element to the story. In fact, the steampunk elements were so far and few between, and so glossed over, that they seemed only put in place to make the claim that it could fit into that genre. The aspects of Fey technology was much more predominant.
Towards the end is where those who enjoy a little action with their story will be most satisfied. Without saying too much, I’ll just say that the Fey actually start making an appearance (after a very long wait) and there are a couple good action scenes with Jane battling the Fey Queen.
The story does fall off a cliff at the very end. But, with a 2013 sequel (surprise, surprise) that seems to be the norm for stories these days in an attempt to draw people into the next bit of the story. I would have preferred to have had a little more resolution at the end of Ironskin however.
Overall, a very nice, light fantasy tale that doesn't cookie cutter a lot of what is out there.
Everything about the narration was spectacular.
I could barely wait to get back to it when I had to stop listening.
This book was so very clever. It certainly had a sense of Jane Eyre, but it diverged from that story line well. The world Tina Connolly has created is rich and realistic and I can't wait until the next installment!
I hold a BA in History from York University of Toronto; a 3yr Diploma in Computer Networking from Sheridan College in Oakville Ontario. I have been "reading" audio books sinces the late 80s and a member of Audible back to 2004. What a really like is a good long story preferable over 30 hours. :)
I really enjoy this story. While the romantic themes of the book are very similar to Jane Eyre the book doesn't use it a cookie cutter template. The Fey side of the story will be familiar to people use to reading books about elves not influential by Disney or Tolkien. However the blend is better then both of those suggest - the plot does not follow the same well worn pattern and Jane's desires and dreams are so believable. The story isn't overly one thing or the other.
I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror, and all things in between and out.
This is the second time I've visited Tina Connolly's Ironskin - I read it back when it first came out, and I wanted to revisit it in audio before listening to the sequel: Copperhead.
Ironskin follows Jane, a young woman who watched the fae kill her brother and was wounded by fae shrapnel. (Yes, in this book, there are evil faeries. It's kind of awesome!) To be rehabilitated from the cursed shrapnel embedded in her face, Jane must wear an iron mask that keeps the curse from infecting others around her. She accepts a job in the country as a governess for a young girl who exhibits abilities that suggest she has been touched by the dangerous fae. The girl's father is an artist who sculpts odd masks for women, and while attempting to help the girl rehabilitate, Jane soon finds she has feelings for him. Things get complicated very quickly - just about everyone seems to wear masks, even if they're made of flesh and blood.
Ironskin is a romantic fantasy novel drawing inspiration from Jane Eyre as well as fairy tales. I appreciated that it tackled big themes - that anger is sometimes a good thing, beauty is within ourselves, and that just because you're disabled or disadvantaged doesn't make you any less of a person.
Initially, I was a bit disappointed that Connolly herself wasn't reading - she has a great voice and has done lots of great readings at her podcast Toasted Cake, as well as at PodCastle. However, Rosalyn Landor gives a very polished reading that helps transport the story to a world that's similar to our own early 20th century, and it's easy to see why she was chosen to narrate this one. She can sound cool and detached, or bring a cold fury depending on the character and the situation. When Jane is struggling with her curse, as well as her feelings toward Mr. Rochart, we don't doubt the conflicting emotions that could easily sound like overdone melodrama coming from another reader. From Landor's lips - it works.
Ironskin is a story rich with love and empowerment, told from the point of view of a woman very much trying to find her new place in the world. I'm thoroughly looking forward to seeing what Connolly does next - not only with Copperhead and the books in this series, but beyond.
Literary Agent at Foreword Literary. Blogger at Bookalicious. Voracious reader of kid lit. Love of all furry mammals. Fangirl extreme.
Yes, if they love books with Fae lore.
I loved the fairy lore and the magic system. I got extremely bored with the romance and the way that arc ended frustrated me beyond belief.
I loved Jane in all her neurotic glory.
Overall a decent fantasy enriched with fairy lore that could have done without the romance or had the romance developed quite a bit more.
The author retooled the classic Jane Eyre with a light and fantastic touch. While the conclusion was forgone, I enjoyed the journey of the tale. This is an appropriate choice for teens 13 and up, but not too juvenile for adult readers.
Rosalyn Landor is an able narrator.
my mind lives in the aether
Yes. Its just a fun listen. I wouldn't say it was great but it was worth the credit. Also, the second book in the series is better.
No, but she did a very nice job.
The basic premise of this book is Jane Erye with fae. If that sounds interesting, then this is the book for you.
I am a writer who loves reading.
This beautifully narrated book was very reminiscent of Jane Eyre, with the house on the moors, governess position, and grumpy/absent father. However, the main character has additional conflict - she must deal with a crippling disability caused by a war between the fae and humans. I loved the mix of conflict. And seriously, the narration was absolutely gorgeous.
When reviewing books I try to be fair; I appreciate that not everyone will be looking for the same things in a book.
Ironskin by Tina Connelly is a retelling of Jane Eyre with a fantasy twist. Unlike similar classic/fantasy blends such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Jane Slayre, Ironskin avoids the humorous side of such a juxtaposition and plays it relatively straight. It tells the story of Jane Eliot, a young woman who must wear an iron mask to contain the effects of a injury sustained in the war against the fae. Although the war is long over, she is still very much an outcast and takes employment with one Mr. Rochart looking after his young daughter, Dorie. Dorie, it seems, has also been affected by the fae.
What I liked
The adaptation. This version, while not following the exact plotline of Jane Eyre, does an excellent job of maintaining the characterisations and emotional beats of the original story. Like Jane Eyre, our Jane Eliot lives at the fringes of her society, and this has a large influence on her character. Edward too, is very similar to the Edward Rochester of the book – his guilt for his past is a block in his admitting his feelings for Jane. Ironskin focusses mainly on the Jane/Edward relationship and hits most of the same emotional beats as the original with the love, betrayal and reunion. I didn’t feel Ironskin came quite up to the emotion of the Jane Eyre ending where Jane is finally reunited with Rochester. The fae side of the story was nicely woven in along with this key relationship.
Beauty as a theme. This is an interesting theme woven throughout the novel. Jane, physically scarred as she is by the Great War, is very sensitive to this, especially as she sees the “pretty ladies” who congregate around Edward. She must decide how best to compete for the love of the man she adores. The whole fey beauty becomes a major plot point.
Supporting characters. Although it focusses on Jane and Edward, I did enjoy the supporting characters in the book, especially Poole (half dwarven!) and Dorie. I liked how Jane’s relationships with them are developed through the book.
The narration. I was drawn to Ironskin as much by the plot as the audio narration sample. When deciding whether to buy the Audible book or the Kindle ebook I often listen to the sample. I loved Rosalyn Landor’s voice and narration in the sample and she did not disappoint in the least. I loved the entire narration. Maybe it’s because I am British (soon to be Canadian!), I generally warm to British narrators more than American ones. Landor narrates this with a wonderfully rich received pronunciation accent and brings a lot of life to the tale.
The pacing. With the focus on Jane’s time at the manor, the story moves along briskly. Like in the original, there are several hints at Rochart’s secret, and this keeps the audience intrigued.
What I didn’t like.
There was little I disliked about Ironskin. There were a few occasions where a more modern turn of phrase was used which I found a little off-putting, but other than that I really enjoyed it. Ironskin is the first in a series of books set in this world. The second, Copperhead, follows Jane’s younger sister, Helen. To be honest, I’ll probably give that a miss as the character of Helen rather irritating in Ironskin and I have no interest in following her story. However, the third book, Silverblind, due out later this year follows a grown up Dorie. Now that I am interested in, and will certainly pick it up in audiobook when it’s available.
I gave Ironskin four and a half stars out of five.
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I liked the search for the mystery behind the manifestation of Fae magic. I didn't like that this story didn't enhance the story of Jane Eyre; I was annoyed the with wild stream of consciousness episodes that culminated in an anti-climatic, lackluster ending. I also didn't find any of the adult characters very likable; by the end of the book I wasn't rooting for any of them.
I'm not turned off from other books in this genre, as that what brought me to this book in the first place, but it did turn me off from listening to book 2 in the series.
The young daughter was my favorite character; she has lived with magic as part of her life and seems to have a curiosity and joy with it. Sometimes, however, the author's description of this character was a little creepy.
The book really didn't leave any lasting impact.
I gave the story 2 stars as it was a variation of an existing plot. I've liked the Abigail Reynolds book with the varied endings to Pride & Prejudice but this book fell short of re-inventing a beloved classic. It's not a bad book, but I wouldn't use a credit for this book and would ONLY buy if it was on sale!!
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