Ironskin

 

Ironskin

By: Tina Connolly

(http://tinaconnolly.com/)

Published by: Tor (2012)

A young adult steampunk fantasy review

 

Ironskin-cover

 

The Great War blasted Jane Eliot’s life apart, just as the fey blasted her cheek with their curse.  Now she is ironskin, forced to cover her face with an iron mask to keep others safe.  When Mr. Rochart advertises for a governess to care for a girl in a “delicate situation,” Jane knows she can help this fellow victim.  Yet, a lot more greets Jane at her new position than a difficult child.  Jane finds there are more curses than she knows, and learns about masks more burdensome than iron.

The framework of Jane Eyre brings this novel a natural sinking point for the reader to dive in and let themselves go.  We already know the basis for this romance, for these main characters’ traits, so we are free to splash through the vivid colors of the war with the fey, the steampunk world details, and the new barriers that this Jane faces right away.  Knowing the strengths to expect from this Jane could have been disastrous if she didn’t match up, but the fact that she so resoundingly does makes the story of what this Jane remembers and how she chooses that much more endearing than if she’d had no one to live up to.  Similarly, knowing we will eventually reach certain turning points in the story makes the building parts more purely intriguing rather than tense.  Jane’s charge, Dorie, plays a much larger role in this book and we learn a lot through interacting with her.  Jane’s dynamic with Mr. Rochart leans heavily on audience foreknowledge for the romance, but he allows us to see new angles of this Jane and how she sees herself.  Jane Eliot’s identity rests between visions of herself where she has various levels of opportunity, personal connections, and beauty.  Exploring the ties between these things among all her characters, Connolly pulls on chords familiar to us all while grounding her fantastic society.

The new details and mysteries swirling through this world keep the pace swift as we long to know not just what will happen next but what has already happened.  Each character in here is Connolly’s own and indelibly set within this strange world, so even those who can’t bear the thought of an impure Jane Eyre should be able to read it without flinching.  The prose engages and surrounds with firm moments and beautiful imagery.  The only issue I had was that the ending is rushed.  After such lovely delving and swooping through this gothic tale I was suddenly crashed right through the center of things, with no opportunity to get my bearings or start to breathe again.  It lacks that last chapter, where loose ends are tied up and you can feel the satisfaction of knowing how things have turned out.  I still have some questions that I doubt the sequel, from Helen’s point of view, will answer.  Basically, I needed more!  And I still do, so I’m relieved there is a sequel.  I loved reading Ironskin.

 

Questions I Still Have (BEWARE SPOILERS):

-So, where WAS all Rochart’s money going??  I mean, it’s implied that he’s paying off his ex-wife’s father, but the guy’s a village shop owner and no one is saying he’s living it up, so he can hardly be using up all of Edward’s vast fees.  What happened to the rest of it?  Is Poule sending a bundle back to her clan?

-Wait, so if the curses and things are all parts of actual fey being punished by separation, then if whoever takes charge over the fey next decides to pull their forces together or end some punishments, or time just runs out, people’s FACES could just FLY OFF??  I do not think people are concerned enough about this possibility.

-Why were blue tendrils trying to keep Rochart in the forest that time if the queen’s plan was for him to keep coming back and giving people fey faces, anyway?

-So, if Dorie can see people she cares about through walls, does that mean that all the fey can just see through anything but iron?

-If it was Edward’s fey gift that meant he could remove people’s faces, then how can he reverse the procedure now it’s gone?  Is Jane going to make Dorie do it?

-Can all fey just feel everyone’s feelings and where they are if they care about them?

-Shouldn’t it matter that Jane’s current face came from a mask with a forehead chip?  Is it just going to look like there’s a birthmark up there or what?

 

Please tell me if you’ve ideas about these!

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The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus #3)

The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus #3)

By: Kaitlin Bevis

(http://kaitlinbevis.com/)

Published by: Euterpe (2013)

A young adult fantasy review

 

(Reviews of Daughters of Zeus #1 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/persephone-daughters-of-zeus-1/

and Daughters of Zeus #2 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/daughter-of-earth-and-sky-daughters-of-zeus-2/)

 

Finally, Zeus’s endgame is nigh, in all its horror.  The remaining gods cluster together to try and outwit him, while Persephone simply tries to hold on to herself.  The longer she lives under Zeus’s power, the less clear her mind becomes.  Yet, Persephone must keep some rules clear, or all the realms will fall to the mercy of this divine madman.

The Iron Queen differs from its predecessors by switching from Persephone’s perspective to those of Aphrodite and Hades in order to keep the reader apprised of all the action.  This ensemble approach quickens the pace and intensity with a variety of emotions and plans, making it more difficult to predict the outcome.  With her own voice, Aphrodite recasts her history so neatly that she nearly steals the book.  The new deities introduced in this work interact plausibly in modern roles while still maintaining their mythic essences and ferocity.  All of Bevis’s rules for divine interactions and abilities play together naturally, renewing these characters and drawing the reader into this world by removing the usual distance between the ordinary and divine.  This last work really is the culmination of all Bevis’s ploys to convince readers that the Greek gods truly belong in modern times.

The Iron Queen is the climax of battle between desperate, frightened gods, and as such it is filled with cruelty, confusion, bitterness, and vulnerability.  This book offers more suspense and action than the previous two, with less romance.  This is definitely the darkest of the series and feels heavier, but that brutality shores up Persephone’s world by balancing the supernatural nature of her story with equally harsh consequences.  It brings this story home to the reader and makes the aftermath that much more cathartic, as all Greek tales should be.  It’s engrossing.

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