Review: Ironskin (Ironskin #1) by Tina Connolly

Posted 13 July, 2014 by Rinn in Review / 10 Comments

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Ironskin (Ironskin #1) by Tina ConnollyIronskin by Tina Connolly
Series: Ironskin #1
Published by Tor on 2nd October 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

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 recently re-read Jane Eyre for the first time since school, and it was like reading a completely new book. Without the need to analyse every scene, I was completely and utterly wrapped up in this world, following Jane’s story and heartbreak. I couldn’t get enough of it: I read the book in two days, I watched the Mia Wasikowska/Michael Fassbender film adaptation twice in those same two days, and listened to the soundtrack of said film on repeat endlessly. And that was when I remembered: I had this book on my Kindle, a paranormal retelling of Jane Eyre.

So it was with great excitement that I dove into Ironskin, hoping to rediscover some of those feelings and familiar moments. And whilst Ironskin is a retelling, it doesn’t stick quite so closely to original events as you’d think, and Tina Connolly plays really cleverly on Brontë’s work. In Jane Eliot’s world, fairies and other creatures such as dwarves are real – but fairies are most definitely not the cutesy little magical beings we know from fairytales. Five years previously, there was a Great War between the fairies and humans, and many people were killed or injured. Those injured by the fairies become cursed – Jane’s particular curse is rage – and she must wear a mask of iron to keep the rage in.

Whilst Jane is not a penniless orphan, as the original Jane is, she is an outcast in her own way. She is Ironskin, which immediately pushes her to the edge of society. She has a younger sister who is the total opposite – where Jane is plain, quiet, conservative but also strong-willed, Helen is outgoing, fun-loving and very much determined to integrate herself into high society. She is a representation of how important these people perceive appearance to be. There was definitely much more of a focus on Jane’s appearance in this book – in the original Jane Eyre she is occasionally referred to as being rather plain, but Brontë doesn’t dwell on it. However, in this one, Jane becomes a little fixated on her appearance and there were a couple of moments where it felt like she’d moved on from being this sharp, witty and fiercely independent character, to someone more like her sister.

Rochart was a lot less fickle and mysterious than Mr. Rochester. It was obvious that he had feelings for Jane, he wasn’t constantly pulling away which I felt left a lot to be desired with the romance. There just wasn’t very much chemistry between the two – why is Jane interested in him? Because he’s the only male she knows? I also didn’t understand how she was so surprised by his ‘big reveal’, when half the book had pretty much given it away. Hint: it’s not a mad wife in the attic. The ending also felt a bit… lacklustre. Although it was a big event with lots of action, there was just something missing.

However, I really did enjoy this book. It may follow the events of Jane Eyre and take plenty of inspiration from it, but it’s also very much its own story. I guess it’s a big task to try and live up to the original book, but Connolly gets close. There were plenty of little references in the story – like the room where Rochart and Jane meet is the ‘red room’, and when Jane has to go away for her sister’s wedding Rochart says he was expecting a ‘madeup story about a dying aunt’. My favourite thing however, was how in the original book, Mr. Rochester is constantly referring to Jane as an imp or a fairy, and when she meets him outside Thornfield he asks if she was ‘waiting for her people’. This took that idea and expanded on it hugely – to great success.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

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10 responses to “Review: Ironskin (Ironskin #1) by Tina Connolly

  1. Jane Eyre was one of my favorites from the required reading in school. I adhere so much more enjoyable without having to analyze it. I never cared for Mr Rochester personality and weaknesses. I actually bought this one from recently and the second book as well. I’ll locally try to approach it as not a retelling since I didn’t realize it was when I bought it…which I did based solely on the cover at the time. I’m terrible aren’t I?
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

  2. I’m so glad you enjoyed this book Rinn! I think it appealed to me even more because I don’t come across many Jane Eyre derived books that has a very original storyline, and this book, with it’s nods to the original really charmed me. I know what you mean about Rochart and Jane’s attraction though – it is very quick unfortunately, I wish the author had taken more time with it!

    I haven’t read the second book yet (sort of disappointed it’s not focused on Jane, but Helen) but I want to soon! Hopefully I will like it as much as Ironskin!

    • Yes, it’s lacking the passion of the original. Some of Bronte’s quotes just make it so full of life, and I guess Tina Connolly couldn’t exactly reuse them 😉 What are the other retellings you’ve read?

      Yes! And then I suppose the third book is about the two of them – or maybe someone totally different?

  3. It’s a retelling of Jane Eyre?! With faeries?!! OH WOW! I love that idea alone (even though I’m not such a fan of Jane Eyre because omg, talk about childhood abuse…it really disturbed me. I think I got about 60% on an audio before I stopped reading >_<). I like the sound of this and the cover is just gorgeous. Loved the review!
    Thanks for stopping by @ Notebook Sisters!

    • Yessssss 😀 Aww, that’s a shame, I really loved that book. But this one doesn’t feature much of Jane’s childhood, and it’s happier than the original book.

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