08 August 2012

ARC Review: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

The Book:

It has been five years since the Great War ended, but its tragic victims remain. For those marked by fey curses, the only way to protect others from harm is by encasing the damage in iron. For Jane Eliot, that means wearing an iron mask and having to get by on the remnants of her skills. When she applies for a governess job that alludes to a fey-cursed child, Jane is sure that she can help. What she cannot seem to help is the growing feelings she has for her young charge's father, or her concern about what is happening inside his studio...

The Yarn:

Alternate reality fantasy is a fun read for me, as it can be a terrific look at history through a different lens. In Ironskin, a Great War between humans and fey has dealt damage to England; the country still struggles in its aftermath of lost technology, and war victims try to live their lives with the damage that the fey bombs inflicted.  Jane Eliot has dealt with the fey curse that mars her cheek by doning an iron mask, protecting others from its twisted power. Taking a job as governess to one that is also afflicted, Jane works to help both young Dorie control her powers, as she has worked to control the rage that can course through her -- and others -- without her iron shield. Dorie also works to stifle the feelings she has for Dorie's father, Edward Rochart. It isn't difficult at first, as both Jane's shame at her scars, and concern about Rochart's work, make it difficult to trust him. Rochart's studio is closed to most, but as ugly women walk in, beautiful women walk out. Women as beautiful as fey. Questions abound, not just about Dorie's power or Rochart's studio, but in the truth of how far Jane will go to find true love - and true beauty - again.

Ironskin has been touted as a "Jane Eyre retelling", and I will have to presume that comparison as favorable as I have never actually read Jane Eyre myself - bad librarian!  Even without that, I felt drawn into this Victorian fantasy where fey and human used to work together and where technology existed before the Great War and humans must rely (once again) on coal and steam to power things. Jane's character developed through the entire book, and while sometimes she was frustrating (as heroines in love are wont to be) there was a thread of strength and caring, not only in her relationship with Dorie, but with her sister Helen as well. I will say that the story took turns I was not expecting, and I am intrigued to discover what will happen in the next book.

The Ink:

Title: Ironskin
Author: Tina Connolly
Publisher: Tor
Date: October 2, 2012
Read: Print Advance Reading Copy Provided by the Publisher