Steeped in the gothic tradition and borrowing freely from Jane Eyre, this debut romantic fantasy takes few risks with an old-school tale of love, betrayal, and redemption. Jane Eliot, covering her fey-scarred face with an iron half-mask to prevent her magically induced rage from leaking out, takes a position as a governess at a half-ruined manor house on the moors. Dorie, Jane’s charge, is also fey-cursed; her mother, while pregnant, was taken over by the fey during the Great War. Dorie’s father, Edward Rochart, broods over Dorie’s fate as well as his own dark bargains with the fey who haunt the nearby woods. Emotive eyes are a frequent feature (“There was a well of sorrow in those amber eyes”; “The waterfall of desire spilled over into her eyes”). The characters are rather modern in their growing appreciation of their fey “curses,” whose powers they tend to adopt rather than rejecting them in horror, but Connolly provides plenty of discussion of fashion, courtship, and marriage for fans of Victorian gothics. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown. (Oct.)
“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 is one of the standout books of the year.” RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ Stars, Top Pick!
“Connolly has created a complex and well-drawn world here, and the story is indeed an original and imaginative take on the gothic-fiction tradition. An intriguing and ambitious fantasy tale.” Kirkus Reviews
“Connolly includes all the romance, mystery, and horror that a good gothic story needs, without the florid prose. Her writing is clean and fresh, but she gives us just enough bygone language to show she knows exactly what kind of story she's telling, even as she shakes it up.” Portland Monthly
In this historical fantasy debut, a tribute to Jane Eyre, Connolly evokes that classic's literary feel but adds her own creative twist. Jane Eliot, having lost her teaching post, seeks employment as a governess to a "special" child born during the Great War between humankind and the fey. Jane knows that "special" means the child is like her, a victim of the fey, but whereas Jane wears an iron mask to protect society from the curse of rage cast on her face by a fey bomb, the child, Dorie, was born to a woman fatally possessed by a fey. As Jane teaches Dorie to act more human, less fey, she becomes intrigued by her enigmatic employer, Edward Rochart. VERDICT While Connolly echoes Charlotte Brontë's novel in some plot points and names, this is not strictly a literary mashup but rather an unusual blend of alternate history, fantasy, and gothic romance. It should appeal to fans of Leanna Renee Hieber's The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker as well as such literary mashups as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. [Previewed in Kristi Chadwick's Genre Spotlight feature "Hungry for SF," LJ 8/12.—Ed.]—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA
Connolly, in her debut, delivers a supernatural spin on Jane Eyre set in a gothic, alternate version of the Victorian era, in the aftermath of a war with powerful, forest-dwelling beings called the fey. Jane Eliot, a young teacher and former governess, responds to a notice which reads, in part: "Governess needed, country house, delicate situation." Dorie, the child in question, was born during the Great War between humans and fey that ended years ago and has telekinetic powers as the result of her mother, now dead, being "taken over" by a fey while pregnant. Jane dedicates herself to teaching the peculiar, stubborn child but wonders whether Dorie's disquieting powers can be curtailed. Jane herself was disfigured by a fey curse during the war, and she wears an iron mask that partially obscures her face; without it, her glowing scar can supernaturally infect others with rage. Meanwhile, the child's father, the charming but mysterious artist Edward Rochart, creates strange masks for his clients and hides a dark secret. Jane soon comes to realize that the war with the fey may not, in fact, be over after all. Connolly has created a complex and well-drawn world here, and the story is indeed an original and imaginative take on the gothic-fiction tradition. Some readers may find the prose somewhat bland and the occasional neologisms a bit distracting (such as "feyjabber" as a term for an iron spike). That said, Connolly will keep most readers engaged with her impressive worldbuilding, as details stack up about the Great War, the fey and a scarred postwar society. An intriguing and ambitious fantasy tale.