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Ironskin Hardcover – October 2, 2012
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“A lyrical, beautifully crafted debut. I was particularly taken with the beautifully conceived strangeness of Connolly's fey-touched, just-a-shade-away alternate magical England. A haunting exploration of the true price one must pay for magic, beauty, and love, Ironskin will stay with me for a long time to come.” ―M.K. Hobson, author of The Native Star
“Clever and romantic at the same time--no mean feat. A magical and entertaining waltz across the fairy forests and dark moors just a sideways step or two from Haworth Parsonage.” ―Ian R. MacLeod, author of Wake Up and Dream
“A gothic, eerie, and pitch-perfect retelling of Jane Eyre, in which the moors are haunted by menacing fae and the hero's secrets are steeped in magic. Ironskin kept me up past my bedtime and stayed with me long after the last page has been turned.” ―Leah Cypess, author of Mistwood
About the Author
TINA CONNOLLY lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and brand-new baby boy. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Fantasy, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Highlights Magazine, and the anthology Unplugged: Year's Best Online SF 2008. Her Young Adult dystopia play, Witebox, will premiere in Portland in 2013. Connolly is a frequent reader for Escape Pod and Podcastle, and works as a face painter, which means a glitter-filled house is an occupational hazard. Ironskin is her first novel.
Top customer reviews
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This is a classic gothic romance, albeit with fey elements. Here, Jane has a sister, and traumatic experience as a warrior; there is no mad wife in the attic; and the child Jane is hired to look after is central to the plot and not peripheral. The main thing that differentiates this from most gothics- including "Jane Eyre"- is that here the heroine has a Past with secrets just like the hero does.
The fey element was essential to the plot(s), and very well thought out. Most of the novel kept a considered pace and revealed things to Jane- and us- at a well-measured rate. If that had continued to the end, I would have given this 5 stars; as it is, the ending seemed chaotic and rushed. While it didn't end on a cliffhanger, it's pretty obvious by the end that there are more books in the series.
I did enjoy most of the book, including the development of the various primary characters. However, the hasty ending detracted from my enjoyment, and I likely will not read more in the series.
That being said, this was a pretty good modern novel in the gothic tradition.
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.
It's hard to summarize what I enjoyed most about Ironskin, because the highlights kept adding up. The subtle nods to the original story, Jane as a fascinating heroine, Edward's tragic backstory and ghastly occupation (which helps to catalyze the plot), technology powered by fey magic... Where do I stop? Connolly's lyrical writing style and impressive world-building also enhance the haunting atmospheres and gothic overtones. I wasn't too crazy about the love story between Jane and Edward; I couldn't tell why they were attracted to one another. But the rapport between Jane and little Dorie tugged at my heart, and really made Ironskin a joy to read. This may be less industrial than most steampunks, but if you like intrigue, dark ambiance, and character-centric fantasies, this one comes highly recommended.
Most recent customer reviews
This book had great potential, but I never truly connected with the characters, despite it being on a Jane Eyre model of a story.Read more