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Ironskin    by Tina Connolly order for
by Tina Connolly
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Tina Connolly's Ironskin is a Jane Eyre retelling, set in a world still recovering from the dire Great War between humans and fey five years before. The story's heroine, Jane Eliot, lost her brother in that war and was herself badly injured by fey shrapnel. This has left her with a fey curse (hers is anger) on her cheek that can only be contained by an iron mask across that side of her face.

Badly needing a job, Jane takes a position on a remote estate working for artist Edward Rochart as governess to his unruly young daughter Dorie. The child has extraordinary fey talents, but has not learned to use her hands at all, since she can levitate. Dorie was born during the war to a woman who was killed and taken over by the fey while pregnant. Teaching the child basic skills is an incredible challenge and Jane has little success until she consults Niklas, the man who fashioned her iron mask.

Niklas has made a tar with flecks of iron. When Jane applies that to Dorie's hands, the child becomes more compliant, but also subdued and dispirited. Jane begins to wonder if she is chaining Dorie (and herself) in iron, and learns from a dwarf of other ways to control her curse. Was the good she had attempted for the child actually doing her harm?

Society women consult Edward Rochart, who makes masks for them. They leave with a fey beauty. As Jane's feelings for Edward grow, so do her concerns about his work, and the vulnerability it creates for his clients to the fey. Though Jane herself longs for a mask to give her back her looks, the cost is too high. She fights the Fey Queen to save the ones she has grown to love. Jane has found her mission and her purpose.

Tina Connolly does a fine job in Ironskin with a well realized world, an appealing and vulnerable heroine and an intriguing take on the Jane Eyre story - recommended to fans of historical fantasy.

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