My Thoughts On: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Posted October 2, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 27 Comments

Ironskin by Tina Connolly
Series: Ironskin #1
Published by Tor Books
Publish Date: October 2, 2012
304 Pages

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. –(summary from Goodreads)

Ironskin by Tina Connolly

My Thoughts
:  Very interesting book with a very beautiful cover. (The cover/dress/mask is actually part of the book. YAY!!) 

To set this book up, five-ish years ago, there was a Great War between humans and fey, a nasty war, and the fey have left some of the surviving humans with awful scars and curses. These humans are now outcasts and must wear iron masks or ironskins to cover their scars because, well, iron is a barrier to the fey, right? These masks not only hide the unsightly scars but protect everyone else from the fey curses that sort of leak out from the war wounds the fey inflicted.

If it sounds crazy, it’s because it is. And brilliant. And I loved it.

Jane Eliot fought in the war and has terrible facial scarring. She is also cursed with rage – an orange, burning rage. She wears an iron mask over part of her face to protect those around her from this rage – without her iron mask in place, others can feel the rage inside of her. The iron is cold and heavy and constantly there, forever a reminder that she is not beautiful, not worthy, not like everyone else. Jane hates it, but she also finds comfort in it and hides behind it. With few options in her current condition, Jane takes a job as governess to five-year-old Dorie – born during the Great War – thinking that Dorie is scarred like her and that she can help her. Dorie is not scarred, however – she has has a curse that is far different than Jane’s and isn’t visible to the naked eye. Dorie’s curse is so like the fey that at first, Jane isn’t really sure Dorie is entirely human. If others find out Dorie’s fey curse – or talent, if you will – Dorie and her father could be killed. 


Ironskin is awesome. First of all, I love all things fey. They can be such nasty little creatures, and these guys are just awful. Even though the fey don’t make a huge appearance in the story, the havoc they wreak and the effect they have on the community and the people living there is felt on every page. These people are terrified of them and it comes through the pages. I love that this Ms. Connolly put the fey in the story in a unique way and yet included part of the fey mythology that we all know and love, with the iron and the magic and all. 

The world-building? It’s there and interesting. The idea of masks and gloves and ironskins in general is a great idea, particularly after war between humans and fey. Fans of fey know all about iron, but wearing it in a steampunk-y way and then weaving that into a fashionable society is a pretty cool way to go about telling Jane’s story. The characterization is fun too. I really, really like Jane Eliot – like, I want to know Jane Eliot. She seems like a strong gal – she would obviously have to be strong to have to deal with all the crap she’s been through, but she keeps on going and getting better and better and I just thought her to be marvelously cast. The secondary cast was fun and charming and there are dwarves. Dwarves, you guys.

There is also a romance but it is very light and doesn’t overpower the story at all.

This is kind of big and has not much to do with the book, but more with how re-tellings are often perceived:  

When stories are re-tellings, it bothers me a bit when people judge the book based on the original story. Ironskin is supposedly a paranormal steampunk re-telling of Jane Eyre, which is really rather awesome. I applaud Ms. Connelly for taking that on as a project. And I loved this story. But it is not the original Jane Eyre and does not claim to be. It has comparisons that I could pick out easily and I loved that so much. But what I loved even more than the similarities were the way Ironskin stands out. It is loosely based on Jane Eyre. If you go in expecting a Bronte story, you won’t get one. You’re getting a Tina Connolly story, and if you are open to that, you will probably like it a lot.

Ironskin got better and better the further into the story I read. I’m curious to see where the story will go next and I’m eager to find out. I recommend this book for people that love re-tellings, as long as you are able to keep an open mind and separate the original from the new and fresh (Don’t compare books too much! It irks me!). I also recommend this one for people who like paranormal/fey stories and a little steampunk. Nice job, debut author!

Ironskin will appeal to fans of:

YA Paranormal with FEY!!

Romance lite: no triangle

Ironskin by Tina Connolly

is currently available for purchase.


Thanks to the generosity of Tor Publishing and Tina Connolly,
I am able to offer one copy of IRONSKIN for GIVEAWAY!
(US/Canada Only) * (Ends Oct. 17)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck! 


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


27 responses to “My Thoughts On: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

  1. It IS on my tbr list. I personally love the Fey that Melissa Marr created. So dark and haunting. I also love re-tellings, but I cannot think of a favorite right now. Just love them all!

  2. It is very definitely on my TBR list. I don't read many fey books, so I can't really answer that part, but I do love re-tellings! My favorite re-tellings are always of fairytales – like Sisters Red from Jackson Pearce and Fathomless also by Jackson Pearce. I think you could also consider Cinder by Marissa Meyer a retelling!

  3. Na

    I like fairy tale re-tellings but haven't come across one with a steampunk aspect. I'm curious to see what that's like!

  4. I'm glad you liked this one, Asheley. I haven't read my copy yet but I have read both positive and negative reviews. I personally love Jane Eyre (and yes, that was one of the reason's the book interested me in the first place) but I think I could could go into this without too many expectations. I actually like retellings that break rules (like Cinder for example.)

    Plus I really like dwarves in the stories I read for some reason (I can't wait to read Jepp, who Defied the Stars!:)

    • Oh, and I'm not entering the giveaway (since I have an e-galley) but some of my fave fey books are those by Julie Kagagawa (of course!), Melissa Marr and this cool book I read called Solstice Wood by Patricia McKillip:)

  5. Thanks for the reminder not to compare Jane Eyre and this book too much. I LOVE JE, but I understand that going into a story seeking to compare it can do damage to the author you're reading, especially when it's not a straight retelling. This book sounds really cool. I like the Fey angle, and the iron mask. Though how old is Jane supposed to be if she fought in a war five years ago?

    Another book that is loosely based on JE, but totally it's own story is Rebecca by Daphne DuMarier. It definitely shares some themes with the original, but is also VERY different, so maybe more accurate to say it's inspired by. Very creepy too. Good read for October.

  6. I would love to read Ironskin! My favorite retelling is any one of the Oz books by Gregory Maguire. He is so talented at getting all the political aspects of the story. I also like all of the Iron fey books.

  7. Christina K.

    I love retellings, and Cinder was great!

    Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series really put the faerie realm into awesome heights:)

    Thank you:)

  8. I thought this was on my TBR list, but when I just checked it wasn't…*Fixed that*
    I don't know that I have a favorite retelling. I do always love seeing what different authors take from the classic tales we all love.

    As always great review, Ashley

  9. Ems

    I'm reading this one right now and really enjoying it. I hope that people who pick it up expecting a strict retelling will give it a shot, because it really is quite awesome!

  10. Oooh, I'm excited to see such an enthusiastic review of this one after seeing quite a few 'meh' ones. I feel like most of those disappointed stem from the comparisons to Jane Eyre, but here's a dirty little secret: I've never actually read that damn book. I've only watched the movie and am by no means in love with it to the point that I don't think I'd enjoy a retelling. Also, I love fey books! Favorite YA fey would be in the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, and I just started reading the Urban Fantasy series October Daye by Seanan McGuire which is quite fun as well!

  11. I think that's a really good point you make on retellings. I have experienced similar problems, most recently with For Darkness Shows the Stars. I wasn't consciously expecting Austen, but I think I really was. I understand retellings are different and we shouldn't assume they'll be exactly the same (and frankly they'd be rather boring if they were). At the same time, however, I feel that if a book is being heavily marketed as a retelling then the readers should not be at fault for going into the reading with some specific expectations. And then when the book does deviate in important ways, I don't see how that wouldn't elicit any sort of reaction from the reader. Perhaps there should be some sort of distinguishing factor between retellings (which I personally assume should stay rather close to the source material) and things that have been influenced by classic stories, fairy tales, etc.?

    I am rather intrigued for a steampunk fey Jane Eyre, but I know that my preferences for retellings tend to be for those stories that are more faithful to their source material.

  12. Ironskin has been on my TBR for a long time, but lately I have been getting a little concerned because of some of the reviews. But, I still want to check it out for myself, especially after the good reviews, like yours. So, thank you for that. And as for retelling's, I just love them. Most of them. Scarlet is probably one of my favorites right now. Thanks for the chance to win!

  13. It is on my list, despite the fact that I don't usually read fey books. I am, however, a sucker for retellings, and I love Jane Eyre. And I have a thing for characters hiding behind masks in any situation except masquerades.

  14. Yes, Ironskin is on my TBR-list. Some of my favorite fey books are Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa, Soul Screamers by Rachel Vincent (banshees are a type of fey!!) and Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare that features fey along with other supernaturals!! Thanks for the chance at this great giveaway!!

  15. This has been on my TBR list!! I can't wait to read it!! My very favorite retellings are Jackson Pearce's Sisters Red and Sweetly and some of my favorite fey books are the Wicked Lovely series : )

  16. For some reason Fey books and I don't usually get along well, but your review has totally convinced me to give this one a shot.
    I think Cinder's probably top of my retellings at the moment :]

  17. I'm very interested in checking this book out. I'm not exactly sure what it is, if it's the premise, or the fairy tale retelling, or just the fact that it sounds like a really good fantasy novel but, something is pulling me to check out this book. I honestly haven't read very many retellings or fey books but I'm looking to change that. Maybe by starting with this book? 🙂

  18. I am a fan of retellings, but I've seen mixed reviews of this. HOWEVER, I also like to keep an open mind so I'm going to read the heck out of it.


    You need to read FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS by Diana Peterfreund.

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