Review: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Posted October 11, 2012 in Review / 10 Comments

Ironskin (Ironskin #1)
By Tina Connolly
Published October 2nd, 2012
Tor Books
304 pages
Fantasy | Historical | Steampunk
Source: Received ARC from Tor/Forge (via NetGalley) in return for an unbiased review

From 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.

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Well, I’m going to start off by admitting that I’ve never read Jane Eyre.  Nope.  Never.  Classics?  I avoided them like the plague in High School.  Yup, I’m an idiot.  I own it.  

Do you have to know Jane Eyre to enjoy Tina Connolly’s Ironskin?  Nope.  I had absolutely no problems enjoying Ms. Connolly’s debut fantasy novel!   I’ve had a thing for the fae (or “fey” in this case) ever since reading Anita Blake (no, not Merry Gentry, Anita! Really!).  But I digress…

World Building – This is where the beauty in the story lies.  Ms. Connolly takes us back to the turn of the century and the industrial revolution.  The amazing and intriguing spin is that humans have been relying on fey technology for many years and have become dependent on it.  When the “Great War” between the fey and humans erupts, humans are cut off from the technology and have to go back to inventing new ways to light their homes, move their cars, etc.   

These are not the traditional fey we are accustomed to reading about.  This is a new world, a different fey. 

The first chapter has Jane approaching her new employer’s home where she will work as a nanny.  Jane is describing in vivid detail how half the majestic home was destroyed during the great war and lays in a pile of wreckage.   She’s also noticing that the house is a fey-built home because of some the details she is noticing about the home.

It’s the little details and the rich, vivid descriptions of the setting that pulled me in and had my feet firmly planted next to Jane’s.  I really got lost in this amazing world Ms. Connolly built.  There’s more I could go on about I think I’ll leave the rest for you to discover on your own.

Characters – I think where Ms. Connolly’s strongest characters were was in the supporting “cast”.  My favorite was the butler, Poule.  Every character is a mystery and I believe that is the driving force behind the story.  You’re endlessly trying to figure out who everyone is, whether they are good or evil, and what they’re up to.  

Edward Rochart is quite the conundrum.  I actually did some research and looked up his role in the story structure and he is what is known as the “Deuteragonist”.  As defined by Wikipedia (yeah, yeah, I went there for help), and I’m paraphrasing here because I can’t quote to save my soul, a deuteragonist is the second main character and you never know if they are aligned with the main character (protagonist) or against the main character.  That fits Edward to a tee – spot on!!!  

Again, I found myself reading and reading trying to figure out what in the blue blazes was going on!!

Story & Tempo – I think this may be where some readers may have a tough time with the story.  There is a bit of world building and setting up for the big finale.  It takes a while to get there so the story is a bit slow going at first.  In my opinion it’s just ramping up to ending – steady as she goes.  If you’re an action junkie – this may not be the book for you.  But if you like dark tales of fey, good vs. evil (and trying to figure out who really is the evil one), and rich historical settings then you might just like this one!  

This one really snuck up on me slowly and truth be told, I wasn’t completely sold on my four star rating at first.  But if I’m thinking about a book and it’s character’s days after I read it, that’s a good book in my opinion.

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Other books in the series:

Untitled (Ironskin #2)due out in 2013


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Tina Connolly

Author profile:  Tina Connolly lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son, in a house that came with a dragon in the basement and blackberry vines in the attic.

Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and the anthology UNPLUGGED: Web’s Best SF 2008. Her debut fantasy novel IRONSKIN is forthcoming from Tor in October 2012, with a sequel in 2013.

She is a frequent reader for Podcastle, and narrates the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake. In the summer she works as a face painter, which means a glitter-filled house is an occupational hazard. 

Website | Twitter | Facebook


About Kristin

Kristin has to ensure she gets her minimal requirement of "happily ever after" books in between those books that contain cliffhangers and never-ending story arcs. It's for her family's sake. When not reading, she's homeshooling her 10-year old son, watching cartoons on TV, or taking a nap.

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10 responses to “Review: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

  1. Ok, confession time..i was one of those nerdy kids who actually read the summer reading requirements and loved it! I could not wait to talk about the classics and unearth their secrets. We would have class discussions and my peers would look at me like I had three heads when I started comparing this or that, and stated the authors intent..hehehe!
    This sounds amazing and just the world-building you described has me excited! Awesome review!
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Velveteen by Daniel Marks {review-giveaway}

  2. I think I’m going to pass on this one. I’m an action junkie, and although I do read non-action books, this one seems to be a sleeper for me. Thanks for the honest review, chickie!

  3. I’ve read Jane Eyre, but when I read Ironskin, my initial thought was that you didn’t have to have read it at all to enjoy it or where it was going. If you really wanted to compare the two, find someplace that could give you a simple paragraph-long summary of the book because that’s all you’d need.

    I completely agree with you about the supporting characters being really terrific. I’m with you too, I can’t wait for the next book – I want to know what’s going to happen with Jane’s “you know” and Rochart because I can’t say I really believed in how the two of them ended up.

    Awesome review, Kristin!!

  4. I am looking forward to this one. I love Fey books, and world building is key for me so I know I will like those aspects. Jane Eyre is one classic I could not get through and I tried twice and believe me I have read the classics but the Bronte sisters and I don’t get along so I could care less about the Jane Eyre. I am so glad you liked this one. I have read a lot of mixed reviews so I feel better about it!
    Heidi recently posted…Something Wicked Comes Day 16: Rob DeBorde author of Portlandtown: Guest Post, Review and Giveaway!

  5. I never read many of the classics myself and I kind of regret it because now there are SO many amazing books and I don’t have patience for them.
    Anyway, this one sounds really good and I’ve been wondering if it delivers. The author is actually doing a signing her soon but I don’t think I’ll make it. However I could have a friend pick up a copy since she works there. I will have to give it some thought cause it does sound good.
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