Friday, April 8, 2016

Jane Steele

Reimagining classic tales is the hot new trend, and let me tell you Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele delivers. More homage than actual retelling, this first-person narrative kicks off with a bang with Jane Steele’s confession “Reader, I murdered him”, a far cry from Jane Eyre’s own “Reader, I married him” for in this tale Jane is a serial killer.

From the publisher: "Like the heroine of the novel she adores, Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of her aunt and schoolmaster. And like Jane Eyre, they call her wicked - but in her case, she fears the accusation is true. When she flees, she leaves behind the corpses of her tormentors. A fugitive navigating London's underbelly, Jane rights wrongs on behalf of the have-nots whilst avoiding the noose. Until an advertisement catches her eye. Her aunt has died and the new master at Highgate House, Mr. Thornfield, seeks a governess. Anxious to know if she is Highgate's true heir, Jane takes the position and is soon caught up in the household's strange spell. When she falls in love with the mysterious Charles Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him - body, soul and secrets - without revealing her own murderous past?"

Jane Steele’s premise alone had me stoked before I’d even read the first page, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, it ended up being more like (really, really like) than love. The book starts great – clever, compelling, a true adventure with a good dose of drama and murder, but in the second half once Jane’s ensconced at Highgate House as the governess the story starts to plod along and go the drab gray of her frocks, though thankfully it picks up again in the last quarter of the book. Ultimately, it wasn't as great as the book it honors, but definitely worth the read.