Series: Ironskin #1
Published by Tor Books on October 2, 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Steampunk, Young Adult
Buy the Book • Goodreads
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.
Ironskin, based on many of the reviews from Goodreads, is supposed to be a retelling of Jane Eyre with steampunk and fantasy elements. Now, let me admit rather quickly that I have never read Jane Eyre. Okay, so I get the basic premise and I know I need to read it one of these days and it’s a great literary classic… I just haven’t read it yet.
So, Ironskin is a story about Jane, a governess who wears an iron mask to hide the scar she received during the Fey Wars. She’s lost her job in the city and gets a new one at a manor in the middle of nowhere. The story is set in an alternate universe, amd during regency times, but beyond that the only hints of steampunk are in the iron items people wear to cover up Fey scars. These scars are curses, you see, and without covering them up the curses would effect everyone around the bearer and not just the bearer themselves.
I’m a little disappointed about the lack of steampunk elements, but at the same time I loved the electricity in the story itself. In this alternate universe we used to get out power and technology from the Fey. Until, of course, the war. Now humans are struggling and trying to get by… but we don’t know how. I would have loved more of an explanation, but since Jane doesn’t know it makes sense that the readers don’t know.
Jane didn’t come across as a very strong, independent woman, which I wasn’t too fond of. But she was consistent. She was a woman who had been damaged by the war and the loss of her family. The only person left to her was her sister Helen who had moved on with her own life and was getting married so Jane moved on and got a job far away from her sister. She wore her iron mask, she took care of her charge, and she was stubborn. She wasn’t a weak woman. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t the strong independent woman we expect to see today, but for the time the book was set in, she was a very independent woman who was just trying to get by in the world, and that was the best part of the book.
The romantic relationship in the story felt forced. Jane and her employer were never really even in the same room together for very long, they had very few conversations even when they were in the same room, yet somehow they both fell in love with the other? I’m not so sure I can believe it, and while I do think there needed to be a relationship for the story I don’t like a forced relationship.
The ending felt rushed, and while it was an ending, I was hoping that there would be a sequel (Goodreads says there’s supposed to be one, at least) because there are so many unanswered questions that I didn’t find it satisfying at all. I’m hoping that the sequel will answer those questions and provide that satisfaction.