Book Review: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Jane Steele by Lyndsay FayeJane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
Published by Headline Review on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Gothic, Historical, Mystery, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 432

Reader, I murdered him.

A Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre.
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 - and what if he discovers her murderous past?

Usually, I am not a fan of retellings of classic literature but something about Jane Steele captured my attention. Maybe it might have something to do with the fact that there are no zombies or sea-creatures mixed in with the classic tale instead, it is the dark yet entertaining memoir of a young lady named Jane Steele who suffers and experiences similar events as to that of the “fictional” Jane Eyre with a slight twist.

Jane Steele is an orphan and is left in the care of her cruel and disapproving aunt. She is eventually sent off to a wretched boarding school that is even worse than the one Ms. Eyre had to endure. The boarding school is truly an awful place, empty of joy and full of despair. This place made me angry and I was on Team Jane the entire time, even as her time there ended up bloody and messy. I loved that the author took enough time here to develop the relationship between the orphans and how they became like sisters to one another, even if not all were completely loyal.

I like that Jane Steele is not afraid to get her hands dirty, and that she is fighting the good fight. She kills with reason or at least, that is how the author makes Jane come off to me. I know she is a serial killer, but she is not devoid of emotion and she is capable of love. She kills in order to protect the ones she loves, and herself. Jane Steele is written as a strong-willed, cheeky and clever character. She is a protector to the weak, resourceful, and a very brave girl. She has all the makings of a great role model minus the serial killer part.

Once Jane moves on to become a governess for Mr. Thornfield (so very much in line with Jane Eyre) the story does lose a little of the momentum for me. I feel like the blood thirst is quenched a bit and taken over by the romance that is introduced. Thankfully it’s not instalove, and the relationship between Jane and Mr. Thornfield does develop gradually. I am glad to see that Jane does find a life with him, even if the ending was a bit expected.

Jane Steele was an unexpected delight and sassy read. It also had a good dash of humor in it, even with all the murder, sexual and child abuse. The author wrote a story that captivates the reader and takes them into the world of old Victorian England filled with the fog and grit of London. Instead of giving us a boring traditional Victorian prim and proper heroine, you get a feisty, vengeful yet still likable Jane Steele. And reader…it was awesome.