by: Tina Connolly
Published October 2nd 2012 by Tor Books
series: Ironskin #1
Set in a alternate-history Britain, Jane Eliot, the MC, wears an iron mask over half of her face to protect others from the curse she holds there. In the last fey war she had been hit with shrapnel from exploding fey magic, like many others, but unfortunately her injury is much more visible which causes her some social awkwardness and makes it difficult for her to find and keep a job. Jane finally finds employment with the mysterious and reclusive Edward Rochart caring for his daughter Dorie who seems to have fey magic in abundance, which is frowned upon in society. She needs to help Dorie learn how to do simple things like eat, drink, and play without using that magic. At the same time, she seems to be drawn to the secretive Edward.
Apparently Ironskin is based on Jane Eyre, which I haven't read, so I don't know how it compares but from the very beginning, Ironskin had my attention with the unique way fey magic was presented. The fact that Jane carried this curse on her face that, without the iron mask, would seriously affect those she came into contact with was fascinating to me. That magic also affected her moods and she had to consciously try to tamp down the emotions stirred up by the fey curse.
The way Dorie used magic was interesting as well. This small child had never learned to properly use her hands to care for herself, using magic instead. I felt so sorry for her at times, she seemed so lonely and desperate for her father's love and attention. Edward, however, remains distant and locked away in his room of masks.
While the unique way magic and the fey were presented was what I enjoyed most about Ironskin, the alternate history and straightforward writing style also worked for me. The relationships between the characters were very subtle and at times puzzling. The slight romance between Jane and Edward felt a bit stilted but I enjoyed the way Jane interacted with Dorie, as well as the rest of the background characters. The dialog felt authentic and I enjoyed the whole gothic feel to the story as a whole. I would definitely recommend it to fans of gothic romance, alternate history fantasy, and steampunk.
Rating 4 of 5