Review: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Posted February 23, 2013 by Joshua Burns in Josh, Reviews, Science Fiction / 6 Comments

Review: Ironskin by Tina Connolly
Ironskin by Tina Connolly
Series: Ironskin #1
Published by Tor Books
Published on: October 2, 2012
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
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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.

Ironskin sports two spiffy but slightly misleading “like this, like that” quotes which I will save you the trouble right now of being lead astray by.

Certainly Beauty and the Beast and Jane Eyre (although I haven’t read the latter) receive their sacrificial knick-knacks: a protagonist with a B&Besque curse (not hairy but Eyry?) and, on the Bronte side, recognizable names, personalities, and locations, BUT!!!

In its final act the hints that this world was much more are put away in favor of bombastic, semi-shifty declarations that Ironskin has its own matters to deal with and guarantee Ironskin will not not have a sister book or two.

Jane comes to grips with her interesting handicap while helping Dorie, a rather recessed child of Mr. Rochart, work through her own talents.   The romance seemed pretty hokey.   Jane’s decision to love Edward (=Mr. Rochart) must have bloomed from all that air of mystery he surrounded himself in and those times he discussed how Dorie should be treated / how often the earlier governesses quit town.

The time period of these events, although seemingly inside time, never gets classified, leading me to believe all actions take place in a parallel universe where feys and humans have got into some Great War (which gave me a WWII vibe, which made me think we might be in 1940-50s but we are often reminded due to the Great War humans have lost much of their advanced technology).   Each new chapter has a nice wallpaper pattern heading.

Outside of the trinity of Jane, Edward, and Dorie, we have Poule, a groundskeeper of sorts who gets a lot of screentime love as the book proceeds whereas Cook (the name explains it all) recedes into the shadows as does frustratingly Jane’s sister, Helen, who was designed in a conspiracy for reader’s confusion as Jane’s body double. Thank goodness, their personalities and location are frequently juxtaposed.   You will, more than likely, switch up their names, especially in the opening chapters.

Another authorial confusion conspiracy: have a character say something then instead of immediately showing the reply introduce a paragraph of background or some such.   This somewhat minor oversight is souped up by the reader friendly font size.   Just a heads up!

The author comes from a relevant background, face painter, to the major character flaw, Jane’s fey wounded face, which is often hidden under a mask of ironskin as is shown on the cover. It is an intriguing overlap of profession and important plot point that leads one to meditate during and even after the reading on just how our day lives influence our writing.   Not only does the mask provide a striking image, it also comes to define Jane to a greater and then almost singular degree.

The vocabulary sometime lead me to believe that we were located back in the times Jane Eyre popped out, but the nods to these times whenever they are are not obnoxious or thorough enough for it to take place then nor will it dissuade the traditional UF reader. Ironskin exceedingly well establishes its “alternate” reality. Whenever it is.

Books in this series:
Ironskin Copperhead

Recommended: For those writing a thesis on uses of Jane Eyre in popular culture
Like this, like that: Not to be a hypocrite but Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and the The Unnaturalists series by Tiffany Trent


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Reviews UF/PR novels with an eye for weres of all kinds.

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6 responses to “Review: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

    • Yeah…not too mention whatever cast she carries over could do with a certain amount of beefing up aka pretty much everyone but Jane…also she won’t be able to lean so much going forward on Eyre which should make it real interesting…