Ironskin by Tina Connolly

ironskin

4 out of 5 stars.

This book is Jane Eyre with Faeries. For those of you with exquisite taste, that should have been enough and by the time everyone else has read to the end of this sentence, you are already rushing to your library’s homepage to put this on hold. The rest of you appear to need more convincing. I am slightly disappointed in you all.

This book is an historical fantasy set in the post-WWI era (as far as I can tell from the descriptions of technology and fashion). Instead of European countries bashing at each other, the Great War was fought against the Fey, whose main tactic is to set off bombs embedded with their magic around large groups of people, so the embedded magical shrapnel will give the Fey access to take over the now-fairy-magic-riddled corpses. Those that were hit by the bombs but survived now have little bits of fairy magic cursing them (with anger, hunger, violence, etc.) and are forced to wear iron over their affected parts to keep the curse from leaking out. Our protagonist Jane’s curse is anger and she wears and iron mask to both cover her scars and keep her rage in check. She responds to an add for a governess position in the country, taken out by a mysterious widower whose only daughter is also Fey-cursed.

The language in this book is really reminiscent of Bronte-era writing, which I adore and the addition of an anger curse gives the Jane character a bit more backbone than she had in the original novel. It is not a long read, unfortunately, but there are two more in the series already published. I liked the old-fashioned feel to the novel and the close resemblance to one of my favourite classical novels. A rare rewrite indeed that manages to preserve the character of the original so closely while still adding so many interesting plot elements.

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