Book Description via Goodreads:
Hardcover, 304 pages
October 2, 2012, Tor Books
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.
Source: Alexis + Tor Teen (Thank you!)
When I started reading Ironskin, I was mesmerized with the vividness of the story world. It was easy to get sucked into Jane's steampunk world, with its old-world mysterious vibe and tragic history. I liked how Connolly told the story. The writing was very beautiful and poetic, matching the era of the book. Aside from the plot, what really draws me in (always) is the writing. I like reading something that I would repeat in my head, over and over again.
The characters were likable. Jane was scarred physically and emotionally. Her flaws made her realistic for me. Her interaction with the other characters made her even more real to me. Though people shrunk away from her, she held her head high - well, as high as she could. I wouldn't say that she was the most confident woman in the book, no, in fact, she struggled with her 'damaged' face and the social and aesthetic consequences of it. Although Dorie was a handful, the way Jane handled her showed her never-ending patience and devotion to help out another victim of the faeries.
Mr. Rochart was a harder character to like. At the beginning, I was drawn to his mysteriousness. But as the chapters passed, I found my questions piling up. One after the other. He was too secretive. Although the author planted clues here and there, I believe that it took a bit too long to have the answers. Don't let this discourage you though. I breezed through the pages in my mad-desperate attempt to find those answers. When I found them, it was worth it. I was torn between liking and hating him in the end. But I settled for the former. Edward, like Jane, was flawed and I couldn't blame him for his weaknesses. I can't say much about the romance though, there were sparks but I wanted a fireworks display between them, emotional and sexual tension. I hope that this will be developed in the sequel.
What I liked about Ironskin was the twist on the faery mythology. Gone were the traditional small faeries and what I like to call the modern gorgeous faeries. We got bodiless glows of blue for faeries. More like specters with no form, they needed to attack humans with magic to gain a body. Once their magic attaches or spreads to the dead human body, they can slip in and reanimate the body. I found myself freaking out at this old-world horror. There were scenes that gave me the fear that zombies/possessions incited in me. Bravo to Connolly for doing that! The comeback of the faeries was also something the part that I liked best - adrenaline, chaos and creep-factor raised to the highest level. It was so vivid that I could easily imagine it as a scene in a movie.
To sum up, Ironskin is a fresh and intriguing spin on the faery + steampunk equation. Be prepared to enter into a well-built Gothic story world. I recommend this to people who enjoyed The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, who wants a more mature take on that kind of story (although the two are just similar in terms of the genre.) If you like steampunk, faeries and retellings, this is for you!
4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!