Friday, July 5, 2013

Ironskin

Ironskin is a fantasy novel by Tina Connolly.

Five years after The Great Fey War many victims remain – the ironskin.

Jane Eliot is one of them. Wearing an iron mask over half her face helps to contain the fey curse that mars her – that tries to give off unearthly feelings of rage to herself and those around her.

The beauty she once had is no more.

But she finds a semblance of peace in helping others deal with their own fey curses. So, when she answers a listing for a governess to assist with a little girl born during the Great War, Jane reads between the lines.

Dorie, though, is a stubborn child with a curse completely unique to anything Jane has seen before. The child has no wish to suppress her curse – and trying to teach her how is met with frustration and misery.

While persisting, Jane can’t help but be intrigued by Dorie’s artist father Edward Rochart whose secretive work seems to involve many beautiful women…

Beneath all the enigma and hard work there is a dangerous possibility of the war rising up again. Slowly, Jane must learn more about her surroundings, and herself, to meet it…

I loved the idea of this Fey War and a woman whose beauty is disfigured. I have nothing against attractive characters, but oftentimes in fairytales and fantasy if someone is unattractive it is the male – which I feel gets old and sexist. I like things being turned on their head, refreshes stories.

Unfortunately, yet again, I ended up less than pleased.

Ironskin has definite similarities with Jane Eyre – but only faintly. Mostly, I felt that Tina Connolly used all of the names from the classic book and then did what she wanted with them. This fantasy world it takes place in was devastated by a fey war that deeply interested me, but never was fully explained.

Initially I was waiting for more personality, spookiness, plot and/or atmosphere. It never wholly developed, in my opinion. In fact, it was consistently interrupted by chaotic, confusing storytelling that never gave me a clear picture of our setting or characters. For example, what time period are we in? Obviously not modern times, but not the late 1800s either. Perhaps the 1920s or 30s? On top of that, the language is all over the place for any solid or roundabout era. This was very unsatisfying for me.

Dorie herself might have been the only character I was truly empathetic with. The poor thing is damaged, obstinate and troubled. Yet the way Jane and her father dealt with her didn’t seem all that helpful. So, her issues were affecting, if only because they disturbed me, but the rest?

Any romance element did not feel natural to me. I felt no chemistry, no intensity. The mystery only vaguely intrigued me – it was pretty clear from the get-go what was going on in general.

Unfortunately, Ironskin is not Jane Eyre. And, you know, that’s okay. I don’t want it to be, really. But it also was just a bit of a disenchanting mess, in my opinion.

This is, again, MY OPINION. Read it yourself – I hope you love it!

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