Ironskin by Tina Connolly : Review

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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 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 are true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of a new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.

Tina Connolly introduces a world recovering from a war five years gone; where the survivors have been changed in ways beyond recognition — curses that leak out emotions; rage, fear, anger, and can only be contained behind iron skin. Hinting at many horrors from the war, secret lives and unnatural circumstances, Connolly created a world that if properly executed, could have led to a fantastic story.

Unfortunately, I’m disappointed by Ironskin, while it’s not a bad book, the execution, pacing and many of the plot twists weren’t done as well as they should have been. Parts of the story which should have been minor seemed to drag on for longer than they should have, while more important parts were rushed and not given as much detail as they could have been. The world and story had many rich aspects — the interesting characters, side stories we only got to see part of, and the mechanisms of how the world runs — delving further in the world’s potential would have made Ironskin the book it should have been.

I wanted to like this story, however the writing was clumsy, between the two main characters there wasn’t really any chemistry whatsoever which made reading sections of it awkward and at times repetitive. The main character, Jane is only passably likeable and at times grows dreary with her ‘woe-is-me’ inner monologues where she judges her merit as a person on her looks throughout the first two-thirds of the book.

In a way, it was an interesting retelling of Jane Eyre; with fantastical and steam punk elements added in, and it had some interesting ideas to it as well. I’m uncertain as to whether or not I’ll be reading the sequel, currently untitled and due to be released in 2013, but perhaps now that Connolly has finished with Jane Eyre, the story will step away from the model and become something on it’s own and meet the story’s potential.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tor/Forge for giving me the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ironskin by Tiny Connolly will be released October 2nd.

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