Booked til Tuesday

Life, Law & Libros

Ironskin by Tina Connolly (3 stars)

I read Ironskin, a magical Jane Eyre retelling, as part of a reading trade with Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings. Visit her blog and you'll see her gushing over this entire series. ;) Anyway, Anya recommended Ironskin for me, and I recommended All Our Yesterdays, which I LOVE, for her. I'm pleased to say the trade was a success! I enjoyed Ironskin's magical semi-steampunkish world, and Anya loved All Our Yesterdays's time traveling craziness. :)

Ironskin by Tina Connolly
Series: Ironskin #1
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Steampunk
Published on October 2, 2012
Published by Tor Books
Final Rating: 3 stars

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.

What I Liked:
  • This has nothing to do with the writing, but isn't that cover cool? The magic and the historical feel and yes. :)
  • Jane is a pretty good protagonist. She's sensible, practical and doesn't wallow in self-pity or indulge unreasonable anger or resentment. She's something of an outcast, but she's not an angst-ridden drama queen.
  • I really like the setting. The world is a strange amalgamation of Victorian, steampunk, and magic in a post-war Britain that reminds me of the 1920's post-WWI, but with a touch of Industrial Revolution flavor.
  • The creepy faces. I love how creeped out I was, but it was so CREEPY. I can't be the only one who thought that, right?

What I Didn't Like:
  • I understand that a governess' life is full of routine and monotony and a lot of time passes without a lot happening. And I'm glad the author didn't describe every tiny bit of minutia of every day (like a certain original text- looking at you, Bronte), but the pacing was very inconsistent. We had long stretches of SLOW and then, especially at the end, a rush of fast "everything's suddenly happening now." The characters and world building make the slow stretches acceptable, but I would have liked a more evenly distributed pacing structure better.
  • I didn't love the romance. Not that I loved the original Jane/Rochester, but this Jane barely saw her employer, much less had time to "fall in love." We barely see any relationship development and then boom, she likes him.
  • Once the big bombshells were dropped, I organized the story/characters in my head pretty well because I knew the original tale and saw where the author was trying to line up with that framework...but I'm not sure it would have made as much sense as easily had I not known the original source material.
  • The end rushes like crazy. It was like everything blew up at once and then the end. It reminded me of the last scene in Hamlet, except more people lived. :P

Final Thoughts:
Ironskin felt a little underdeveloped and I think it could have easily been twice the length without feeling long, but overall I enjoyed the story and am very interested to learn more about the world. Thanks again for the recommendation, Anya! :)


  1. Commenting take 2! Yey! I'm glad you liked parts of it :D I realized after we agreed to this trade that the romance might not be your cup of tea, but I know better now for our next trade! *hint hint* Also the creepy awesomeness keeps building in the next two books and they aren't based on Bronte so you might really like them :D BUT next swap???

    1. I know, I know...I'm a little picky about my romances. But only a little. ;) I was pleasantly surprised that this romance remained as much in the background as it did. And yes, I'm definitely planning on checking out the rest of the series. Creepiness, here I come! Wait, that didn't come out right.

      As for our next swap, I'm going to have to give this some thought. What can I torture Anya with next--er, I mean, what would Anya like? :D

  2. I sadly don't know anything about Jane Eyre. A small gap in my education on that one.

    1. Many will disagree with me, but unless you love hearing draperies described, you're not missing much. I read it for homework the summer I was traveling for work and hated it. :) But Ironskin doesn't spend nearly as long on the decor. ;)

  3. I'd heard these books were really good (from Anya). I didn't realize they were a Jane Eyre retelling. (I've never read it) Jane sounds like a good protagonist, but it's a shame about the romance. I don't think I'd be bothered by the pacing. I'd rather skip the boring parts than get to watch them all. Nice review! :)

    1. Just the first book, Ironskin; I'm pretty sure the next two aren't retellings. Happy reading, and thanks for the lovely comment! :)

  4. I just learned about Tina Connolly's work earlier this year, so Ironskin is "new" to me. It sounds intriguing - and I LOVE Jane Eyre. (One of the few classic novels that appealed to me.) Not sure how I'd like the rushed ending, but it sounds like it's worth the read.

    1. I think it's definitely worth a look, especially if you love Jane Eyre. :)