This is an astonishing book: an evocative re-imagination of Jane Eyre that concerns itself with beauty, love and social upheaval. Jane Eliot is an unforgettable protagonist, and the setting is strange and familiar at the same time. Connolly’s fey creatures manage to be both ethereal and menacing. This lyrical and utterly marvelous debut novel is one of the standout books of the year.
Jane, a survivor of the Great War between humanity and the fey, wears an iron mask to protect the world from her fey curse. After her sister’s engage-ment to a rather unpleasant upper- class twit, Jane accepts a position as a governess at a remote estate, caring for a child — also cursed — born during the Great War. Jane believes she can reach Dorie and teach her to integrate into human society, but is less confident around her employer, the artist Edward Rochart. Jane finds him mysterious and intriguing and, as she uncovers the truth behind Dorie’s curse and his art, she also learns just how far she’s willing to go to shed her ironskin. (TOR, Oct., 304 pp., $24.99)