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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 11 February 2016
So much potential in this plot, all reduced to, "Wah, wah poor me. I'm not pretty." And "Oh, woe is me, I've been cursed with rage...or, well, at least mild irritation." (I certainly never sensed any more than that.) With a romance that boiled down to "Mr. Rochart is never here. I wish he was here because it makes his daughter happy when he is. Oh, I love Mr. Rochart." It came out of nowhere! Not least because Mr. Rochart was completely flat as a character. Jane was a bit better, but not by much.

Sure the book has a creepy atmosphere. And it really is an interesting premise. Unfortunately, I think all that potential was just smothered under all the self-absorbed angst. I'm afraid being a retelling of <i>Jane Eyre</i> was enough to salvage this. I'll not be bothering with the sequels.
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on 20 January 2013
Jane Eliot wears an iron mask covering half her face to eliminate the effects of the fey curse she was scarred with five years ago during the war. If not for the mask, the curse fills other people with anger and rage for no particular reason. Jane gets hired as a governess for Dorie, a five-year-old girl, who lives in a half-destroyed country mansion, owned by her father Edward Rochart, an artist who sculpts grotesque face masks out of clay.

She doesn't see a whole lot of him, but there is the monosyllabic maid, snarky cook and bookish housekeeper (sorry, "butler") to keep her company. Dorie doesn't like to use her hands, she much prefers psychokinesis. Such a blatant fay curse must not be seen by outsiders, it would ruin her father's reputation, so Jane tries to teach the girl how to use her hands with tools. All the while falling in love with her employer ...

From the acknowledgements at the back of the book, this novel started out as a novella, and someone pointed out similarities to Jane Eyre. As the references are obvious in this novel, I guess these bits must have been expanded on when turning the novella into a novel. Those who are interested in this book purely because it's touted as "steampunk Jane Eyre" should probably curb their enthusiasm. There are similarities with Jane Eyre, undoubtedly, but it's not a straight re-telling in a fantasy/steampunk setting.

If you, on the other hand, go into it expecting a fantasy/steampunk story with elements of Jane Eyre, you'll fare much better. In fact, you'll probably get a kick out of recognising some of the exchanges between Jane and Rochart. They might not be cut-and-paste, but they are familiar. Some of the dialogue is adapted from Jane Eyre's narration rather than actual speech, and sometimes, Jane Eliot might say a version of something Rochester said in the original, or the other way around. I enjoyed it, at any rate!

The setting itself is gloomy and dark - with heavy curtains, dark wood panels and so on - but I wouldn't call it depressing. There isn't really that sense of despair, and Jane is constantly trying to find a solution.

I would say that there is too little of Rochart, but I never really thought about how the lack of interaction would make it difficult to understand why they fall in love with one another. It just seemed that their encounters draw them closer together quickly. On the other hand, if fey curses can make you sense the other person's inner feelings, that probably helps.

Rochart's artistry wasn't a big surprise, to be honest, and I wasn't too surprised about something else found out very near the end, even though it was still an "oh ... right then ... fancy that!" sort of thing.

Speaking of the ending, it felt rushed. The rest of the book plods along at its own pace, no problem, and then things start happening, a lot of things at once, and you look at the remaining pages and wonder how on earth this is going to be resolved in the handful of pages left. Ironskin is apparently the first book in a series by the same name, so I wondered if the resolution would be saved for a sequel or something, but no, things come to a head very quickly and BAM, book ends. It's abrubt.

It's never made entirely clear when the novel is set, although it seems to be something akin to the 1920s, and it's clearly in our world - except for the fey and their technology. The setting and backstory of the war is interesting, and there is plenty of potential to write prequels, if that is of interest to the author.

Overall, I found Ironskin to be well-written, but sometimes I had to read a sentence a couple of times because the wording was peculiar, or because words were missed out ("fragment, consider revising" as a certain word processor would put it). Not by accident I'm guessing, but deliberately, as a stylistic statement. It worked in parts, and in other parts, it was somewhat confusing. Still, it's not put me off wanting to find out what happens next.

I enjoyed reading about Jane and Dorie (and darling Rochart broods like a trooper!), and the fact that I finished this book rather quickly is a testament to that. Jane is resourceful and I quite like her, and I can't wait to read more about Poule (the "butler") either, who was probably my favourite character.

Ironskin might not appeal to everyone, especially not those who think it's just going to be a somewhat supernatural rendition of Jane Eyre, because there's more to it than that. I like fantasy and steampunk, and I like Jane Eyre, so for me, it was a very good combination. It's more inspired by Brontë's novel than trying to copy it and paste it into a different world.
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on 3 May 2015
Three and a half stars. This has many good points - it's emminently readable and there are some great ideas. A vaguely dystopian steam punk faery tale with elements of Tam Lin and beauty and the beast, as well as more than a passing nod to Jane Eyre, it pulls its disparate element together admirably.

I feel that Connolly's Editor let her down - it definitely needed at least one more edit and not just because the structure is little unwieldy in places. Some of the phrases are so truncated that they actually don't make sense - you're left working out what was being said. If this was a demonstration of voice it might eventually have bedded in but it wasn't and the effect was to make the narrative look sloppy in places. Similarly, the first three or four chapters are choppy and the voice wobbles. The further you go in the book the more assured the writing becomes so I have to assume that the first few chapters weren't really looked at enough during edit.

On the whole though, this is a fun read. Not too heavy and with just the right amount of jeopardy to keep you page turning. As a homage to Jane Eyre (there are several parallels but this is very much its own book) this is satisfying and inoffensive - I've seen far too many people try to ape that classic with cringeworthy results. The characters are fairly well drawn despite a slightly borrowed feel to some of them. Perhaps the books greatest strength is the world building - it's raw and well imagined and manages to be fey and industrial, modern and period at the same time.

I'd definitely recommend it for people looking for a different slant on fantasy that isn't too dense. Despite any irritation at editorial details, I will be picking up the second book - Copperhead.
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on 2 May 2014
I really enjoyed reading IronSkin. It tells the story of a governess employed by the troubled, but undeniably attractive, Mr Rochart to care his young motherless daughter. Set in a gothic country home against the backdrop of an ominous forest, the parallels between IronSkin and Jane Eyre are strong. Yet IronSkin is an ingenious alternate world, where humans know that the fey and dwarves are real.
IronSkin is set in the time after the Great War with the fey. Humans are slowly rebuilding their world without the wondrous fey technology.
But some have been damaged by the war. Jane is coming to terms with her scarred face and fey curse. Her young charge has also been inexplicably cursed by the fey.
The author using evocative language, gliding over the surface glamour of a world of Bright Young Things, powerfully describing the dark country mansion, the menacing forest of thorny locusts.
In IronSkin we meet a cast of fascinating characters, feisty Jane, brooding, but don't forget attractive, Mr Rochart, Jane's shallow but charming sister, the intriguing butler, Poule.
And at its heart IronSkin has mystery. The author skillfully spins her spell to reveal those secrets into a fascinating story.
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on 9 March 2015
Very good book which had a lot of mystery involved with the characters and their emotions, hard going at times to understand the connections between all the ladies, the fear of of the Fae and the iron masks & attachments. It did all come together in the last few chapters. Looking forward to reading the next book in the series
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on 29 May 2015
I chose 3 stars because the book was good but not great. I really like the end but I won't say what happens then I'd be a spoiler. I look forward to reading copper head. I would recommend it for young teens
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on 2 October 2012
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Tor books and Netgalley.)
21-year-old Jane Eliot wears an `ironskin', or iron mask. When she was younger she was too close to a `fey bomb' when it went off and she now has pieces of shrapnel in her face. These small pieces of fey metal cause her to feel rage, and she must wear the iron over the metal in her cheek and temple to prevent the rage from spreading to anyone else.

Jane has recently lost her job as a teacher, and has instead taken a position as a governess in the country, teaching a small child called Dorie, who herself has a touch of fey about her. Dorie's mother was pregnant when she was cursed by the fey, and Dorie is able to make things move without touching them.
Mr Rochart - Dorie's father and Jane's employer has a studio that nobody is allowed into, and obviously has a secret hiddent here. Jane also often sees him going into the woods, which is dangerous as there are still fey about, even if the war with the fey is over.

If you've read `Jane Eyre' you can probably pick the similarities from the above summary quite easily. The main characters are even called Jane and Rochart if you hadn't already figured it out. I have to say that in my opinion it is very similar to Jane Eyre; Jane is poor, she's a governess, she's secretly lusting after Mr Rochester, oops, I mean Mr Rochart, and Mr Rochart is hiding some secret in his upstairs studio that she is not to know about.

The addition of the fey to this rather conservative storyline was interesting, and was done well, and although if you've read Jane Eyre you will know exactly where the plot line is going, there were a couple of fey twists that I didn't see coming.
Overall; Jane Eyre with a touch of fey.
6.5 out of 10.
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on 14 October 2012
Egalley thanks to Tor Books

This is another book I would hesitate to even call steampunk-ish. This is more of a Gothic novel in alternative reality.

Really atmospheric and strangely beautiful like most of Gothic novels I've had pleasure to read. The plot is ever so familiar that anyone who've read Jane Eyre or watched the movie would recognise it straight away.

And yet, Blanche for example is a passing character, there is no mad wife, and Jane has a younger sister, so even if you know that this is another interpretation of the famous novel it's not that predictable and it will surprise you from time to time.

Jane is a very strong woman, but she is only coming into her powers in this book, the author is still unsure as to how to sculpt her character so Jane goes through a lot of yo-yo moods and changes in personality, but, MY GOD, by the end of the book she is someone you would not want to cross. Absolutely formidable!

Dorie was pretty amazing, otherworldly and difficult. If you ever watched Firelight, she strongly reminded me of Louisa, and I could understand the challenges Jane faced trying to forge connection to her.

Mr. Rochart was perhaps the coldest character in this book. I really couldn't get a feel of him, and you can blame him for the lower rating I gave to Ironskin. I also felt that there was no chemistry between him and Jane.

Aside from that minor problem, the world-building is very interesting, especially the representation of Fey - these cold, alien, eery beautiful creatures, that everyone is terrified of. Any fey detail was fascinating and carefully incorporated into the mythology of the world.

Overall, a fabulous promising novel with very dark undertones, wonderful secondary characters and great world-building. Recommended to all fans of Gothic literature.
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on 9 November 2016
What a brilliant read "fantastic " doesn't even come close to describe the quality of this book thank you so much
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on 5 February 2014
The premise is interesting but the book itself doesn't deliver - the characters are poorly developed shadows of those of Jane Eyre, so rather than an inspiration, it just seems like a poor imitation with fairies and vague allusions to technology thrown in to make it vaguely "steampunk".
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