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Copperhead    by Tina Connolly order for
by Tina Connolly
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Tor, 2014 (2013)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Tina Connolly's Copperhead is the sequel to Ironskin, a Jane Eyre retelling in a world recovering from a Great War between humans and fey five years before. Jane Eliot was badly injured by fey shrapnel, leaving her with a fey curse (anger) on her cheek. To contain it, she wears an iron mask across that side of her face.

In the first book, Jane took a job on a remote estate as governess for artist Edward Rochart's unruly young daughter Dorie. The latter was born to a woman who was taken over by the fey while pregnant. Dorie has extraordinary fey talents but it was a major challenge for Jane to teach her to interact in human fashion. Edward made masks that gave society women (including Jane's sister Helen) fey beauty, unaware that this left The Hundred vulnerable to the fey. Jane fought and defeated the Fey Queen to save her loved ones.

Though Jane appears in Copperhead, it is much more Helen's story, as she takes up her courage and grows into it. Helen is married to the controlling Alistair, whom she placates in order to occasionally do what she wants. Alistair is a member of the Copperhead Society (led by Mr. Grimsby), whose goal is to assert human superiority over both dwarvven and fey. After Helen enlists Jane to help remove Grimsby's wife Millicent's fey mask and restore her true face, Jane disappears.

Helen is determined to find her sister and also to restore their own faces to all of The Hundred. She takes great risks to do so, finds allies in surprising places, and is helped by handsome, half-dwarvven Rook. There are ugly incidents between humans and dwarvven before the Fey King's long-laid plot - and both Jane's and the Copperhead Society's role in it - is uncovered. Eventually, Helen leads The Hundred into battle, armed with everything from copper hatpins to diamond brooches. When it's all over she has an important life decision to make.

Tina Connolly has given us an intriguing world and an engaging Regency fantasy series, with feminist threads running throughout. I do hope there will be more.

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