We are nearing the Thanksgiving rush is here. Are you cooking, traveling or just looking for a few quiet days at home with good food, family and friends? Before the chaos starts I have a guest post and giveaway for you all. I am pleased to have Tina Connolly author of Ironskin and fellow Portlander here today to share her thoughts on the fashion and world building that she developed in Ironskin. Make sure you enter the giveaway!
Here is a bit on Tina:
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 released from Tor Books in Fall 2012, with a sequel forthcoming in Fall 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. Find out more about Tina on her website,Twitter, and Goodreads.
Here is Tina:
So Ironskin incorporates elements of Jane Eyre into its story. And it opens with the protagonist, Jane Eliot, arriving at a ruined chateau on the moors. It would be easy to assume that the story is set in a fictionalized 1800's.
But it's not. If anything, it's more of a fictionalized post-World War 1. It's not alternate history, not really, but I did do a bunch of research into the interwar era to give the book a sense of place, as Ironskin takes place 5 years after a "Great War" between the humans and the fey. But many things are different there than in our timeline. Humans had been trading with the fey for cheap clean energy, so technology is both ahead and behind of where we would be.
So what's one way to help cue the reader what sort of time period we're in? With fashion, of course! I ended up taking my fashion cues from 1930's styles. When Jane goes to her sister Helen's wedding—and borrows an up-to-the-minute dress from her—it's described as a silver bias-cut dress - slinky and close-fitting, draped and gathered at one hip.
I'm lucky in that Tor asked me if I had any cover suggestions. I'm sure they would have gone their own direction if they didn't like my ideas, but as it happens, I said that I imagined Jane on the cover...in her half mask...in her silver dress.
I did a rough sketch, and as well, I sent a bunch of links to the sort of 30's style dresses I was imagining you would see at the party scene at Helen's wedding. I thought I'd share a few of these with you today!
Swing Fashionita: some beautiful drapey ones, particularly the gold one at the bottom
The Luxe Chronicles – I haven't seen Atonement yet, but I've been captivated by Kiera Knightley's beautiful vivid green dress
I used other fashion periods elsewhere in the novel to help give a sense of a timeline – a "cream muslin with empire waist" is described as being 150 years old. And for the pre-war fashion I ended up mixing in some almost-flapper styles. But one thing so great about the beautiful cover is that Jane's gorgeous silver dress helps show right away that we're not quite in the time you might expect.
Thanks so much to fellow Portlander Heidi for having me on the blog today!
Oh, those dresses are just lovely. I really do like the cover as well. Thanks so much Tina for sharing that with us all today. Tina is also generously donating a signed copy of Ironskin to one lucky winner. This contest is open to U.S. residents only. You know the routine..fill out the Rafflecopter, read the Contest Policies....Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
Ironskin (Ironskin #1) by Tina Connolly
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.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Tor Books
Three and half stars: A new spin on Jane Eyre with deadly Fey, steampunk and more.
Jane takes a deep breath and eyes the strange house, obviously of Fey architecture. She is here seeking a governess position, and unfortunately for a girl like her she is running out of options. Jane adjusts the iron mask on her cheek and tightens the long veil around her face. She is greeted by Mr. Rochart. He seems unperturbed by her masked appearance, and he immediately offers her the job. She is to help care for his daughter who is cursed with some unique fey abilities. Jane has her work cut out for her, but she settles in undaunted. But things are not as they seem in this house. Her employer keeps odd hours and has an array of beautiful women as clients. He supposedly is an artist creating masks that Jane considers to be hideous. Is Mr. Rochart a dashing heartbreaker or is there something more?
What I Liked:
- First, I have never completed Jane Eyre. I tried to read the book twice during my teenage years and I could not get through either Bronte sister book. Now, it isn't because I don't have patience for the classics. I adore classic literature and have read more than my fair share of these great works, but for whatever reason, Jane Eyre is just one book that didn't appeal to me. Perhaps I should consider it again now that I am older. Needless to say, I can't compare Ironskin to the classic, but I can tell you after reading this one that it is a strong departure from the original. This book is set in an alternate steampunk world populated by deadly Fey. So if you go into this one expecting an accurate retelling of the classic novel you will likely be disappointed. If you pick this up looking for something different you will enjoy it. So it is best to get rid of any preconceived notions when starting this book.
- I thoroughly enjoyed Jane's character. She is bold, determined and very capable. She is scarred and deformed but she does not let her appearance dictate her life. She refuses to hide and pity herself. Instead of taking refuge with her sister and her wealthy fiancé, Jane takes on a difficult governess job. Even when the child under her care proves to be a challenge, she doesn't back down. I liked how fierce and courageous Jane is throughout the book. I especially liked the way she dealt with her deformity. I particularly enjoyed the added fey curse to Jane's injury. Jane's face was scarred and deformed by a fae bomb, and now her cheek carries a fey curse that causes rage. I thought this added unique aspect was particularly interesting, and I liked watching how Jane's understanding of her affliction evolves. Jane is definitely an admirable heroine.
- I liked the mystery in this book. There is the uncertainty of what is really going on in the house, what is Mr. Rochart doing? I also liked the anxiety regarding the Fey. Not knowing if they would suddenly materialize again and once again take up arms against the humans. This book keeps you continuously guessing until the final pages.
- I personally enjoyed the romance in this one. It is a slow burner....Jane for the past five years has hidden her face and accepted that fact that no man will willingly touch her or pay attention to her because of her iron mask, but Mr. Rochart from the first meeting is not intimidated by her appearance. What follows is a slow and steady attraction, a touch here, a look there, denials, fleeting thoughts, blushing cheeks... finally culminating with Jane's sudden realization that she has feelings for Edward. This is certainly not a torrid romance, and for the most part it is quiet and not the main focus, but I liked that it took its time developing. If you are expecting a hot fiery romance, this is probably not the book for you.
- I enjoyed the fey elements in the story. The Fey are deadly and mysterious. A Great War was fought against the Fey and now the world is in shambles without the fey technology that the human race had grown so dependent upon. I liked that they were always present even though the actual time that they are in the scenes is minimal. There is a constant, uneasy fear and you are just waiting for them to make their terrifying appearance.
- Finally, it was nice to read a book that did not have a love triangle or a cliffhanger ending.
And The Not So Much:
- I loved the incorporation of the Fey in this book, but I wished that the book had a prologue at the beginning that quickly covered the specifics of the Great War, and the Fey and their powers and why they are so terrifying. I have read numerous books on the Fae and so I am familiar with their frightening abilities and how deadly they are. For someone who has never read a book featuring the Fey, they might be a little lost. The Great War and the Fey are recounted through flashbacks and snippets of information here and there and you must read the entire book to get a clear picture. I wanted more detail on the war and what life was like before the Fey attacked the humans and more explanation on the fall out after the war. How did the humans attain victory? How crippling was the decimation?
- I ended up being a bit confused on the whole mask idea. I especially was disappointed with Jane's decision regarding Edward's mask. I spent the whole book admiring her strength and determination to deal with her injury and then her decision regarding Edward's mask, even knowing that they are fey cursed felt a bit out of character.
- The ending was a bit chaotic for me. Jane was in a flurry going from one place to another, one minute she is at her sister's the next she is back at the house, and she makes numerous rash decisions that were a strong departure from her previous behavior.
- Finally at the end, the death and destruction of a powerful Fey just didn't sit right with me, for a being that is supposedly immortal, it seemed too easy. Is she really dead? I just didn't buy that she could be killed that easily.
Ironskin was an interesting and fun loose retelling of Jane Eyre. Keep in mind this book is a strong departure from the original and enjoy the ride. My favorite aspect of this book is Jane's fierce character and the inclusion of the deadly Fey. This was a unique read and I enjoyed it. I am looking forward to seeing how the story will continue.
"He was not handsome, not as Helen would describe it---not soft and small-nosed, no ruddy cheeks and chin. He was all angles, the bones of his cheek and jaw plainly visibly, and his hair leaped skyward as if it would not stay flat."
"Almost spring was the worst--the last cold and wet of winter when you were dying for bare arms and sunshine."
"The days passed and still he did not come. Jane looked for him in every shadow of curtain, every stroke of clock."
"Jane couldn't live with herself anymore. She was the lit end of a firework, a short fuse that would burst into a thousand stars."
I received an copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated and all opinions expressed are my own.