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March 15, 2016

Disliked It: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Series: Standalone
Format: eGalley
Release Date: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: G.P. Putnam's Sons

"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?





Who can resist a Jane Eyre retelling?! Not this girl! This sort of adaptation is tricky because Lyndsay Faye's got big shoes to fill. But the blurb! Oh the blurb promises that it'll be darker than Brontë's classic gothic romance story so I had high hopes that LFaye will have me worshipping at her alter by the end of this novel... 

Not quite:


1st Third: Lizzy Borden, is that you?
JANE STEELE is some sort of a memoir/confessional from our anti-heroine, Jane Steele. Like in the blurb, Jane opens the novel with a murder confession followed by a few more. The first half is exactly what I expected the story to be: dark, thrilling, and page turning. Jane is an intriguing character, a sociopath who related her spiral to serial killer status in a very cold, matter-of-fact, unconscientious, almost trivial way. I'm almost convinced that the girl has no heart if not for her extreme loyalty and love for those people who mattered to her. Her frustrating situation somewhat justifies Jane's meanness too so it became a matter of becoming a monster to beat an even bigger and meaner monster. Suffice to say that I love Jane's deviousness at this point and I look forward to more.


Last Two-Thirds: The Little Princess
Jane then finds herself back at Highgate House where her painful odyssey began and suddenly it feels like I'm reading a brand new novel. Jane's darkness retreated in the shadows as she assumes the role of a governess to the new owners of her childhood home. Jane said as much that she wanted what's hers back so I expected Jane to come up with a cunning and beastly plan to get back Highgate House and redeem herself in the most dramatic way. That didn't happen maybe because she fell in love with Charles Thornhill that had her turning a new leaf? I don't really know, the signs were subtle is any, Jane just did a complete 180 without much preamble that there was a complete departure from the old Jane to this new Jane with zero transition. 

And this is where JANE STEELE flatlined for me and finishing the novel turned into a tedious chore. I got so very bored because I lost what intrigued me the most about Jane Steele in the first place. What happened to our clever murderess?! Where's the dark gothic feel? Moreover with the novel turning more "romantic" whatever happened to the angsty love affair similar to Jane Eyre? There's a big missed opportunity here IMO because the set is staged for that and LFaye didn't follow through with it.


Where is Jane Eyre?
I don't know, but her spirit doesn't reside in JANE STEELE. The novel is divided in three parts with the first one very disjointed from the rest. Jane Steele's redemption was unsatisfactory; She basically got away with murder but not in a cunning impressive way; The resolution for the various plot threads are very convenient and glazed over; And the romance sorely lacked in tension. 


JANE STEELE did not work for me all and failed to deliver what its advertising. A dark and devious gothic romantic tale this is not. Jane would often quote Jane Eyre, took it out of context to justify her actions or loosely relate her current situation with Ms. Eyre and aside from being governesses, Jane Steele and Jane Eyre are nothing alike. 

If LFaye split the story, lengthened the first third into a full novel, developed Jane's darkness then wrote a sequel with her HEA, I think JANE STEELE would've fared with me better. 










Talk Supe


42 comments:

  1. This sounds like a mess in so many ways. Darn it, I was hoping it would be a good one. too.

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    1. I feel like if she got rid of the Bronte angle and just told the story in a straightforward way, it might have worked better. Comparisons are inevitable

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  2. Oh that's too bad. I was really hoping this will be a good one, but then again, anyone wanting to do a retelling of a classic is pretty ambitious, imo.

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    1. That's true which is why I discourage people from doing it unless you're 110% sure you can pull it off

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  3. I've been wondering about this one but now I'm glad that I didn't pick it up. It sounds pretty twisted and weird though!

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    1. I like dark reads, I guess my expectation was different from what I got?

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  4. Oohh noo and this is a standalone!! I had such high hopes for this one, but they burst into flames :(((

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    1. Give it a go, it's different for all of us, you might appreciate it better than I did

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  5. Yikes! This sounded like a hot mess. Sounded promising, too. :(

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    1. Oh well, here's to hoping my next historical thriller is better than this

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  6. A Gothic re-telling, but it already is, fine make it darker, but that is not the real deal

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    1. The more I think about it, the more that I'm convinced that it would've been better if the Bronte angle wasn't made into this big thing.

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  7. It's difficult when we have a retelling, I love them as well but difficult to have one good too so I'm sorry to hear that it wasn't what you expected

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    1. They have big shoes to fill and they're setting the bar real high

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  8. I've never been a fan of Jane Eyre so even if this wasn't about that, it probably wouldn't suit me at this time.

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    1. That's cool, I guess you dodged a bullet? lol

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  9. Retellings are always hard for me. I'm always worried that I'm going to be let down. I try to avoid them most of the time because of that. I have read a few, mostly fairy tales. I have read one Shakespeare, but it was one of the stories that I haven't read and by an author that I love to pieces. I've never read Jane Eyre. I don't know that it would be for me. I'm sorry that this one didn't work out well for you. Better luck with your next read.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

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    1. I'm with you and my reason is classics are big shoes to fill so you better ace it or leave it alone.

      I haven't read Bront either but I'm familiar with the story enough to make a reasonable comparison. And even if I dived into this blind, the parts are disjointed the character development leaped and skipped important parts

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  10. This is one retelling I was so excited about. I'm sad to hear that it started off with a bang, but sort of fizzled out towards the end. I would be disappointed with her losing what made her an alluring murderer too!
    Sorry this didn't end up being that great, Braine. :(

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    1. Me too. I was okay with it being not so Eyre, and I'm also okay with redemption but the change in her personality wasn't drawn out well.

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  11. Bummer...I hate when a book starts so strong then sputters out. You keep hoping but nope...

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    1. Right? I'd rather it start lukewarm and end with a bang

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  12. Aww, that sucks that this lacked so much. It's been years since I read Jane Eyre, but I imagine that I'd have to read it again before reading this. I like to compare everything.

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    1. If you're plannin to read this, don't reread Eyre, in fact forget about Eyre. Just dive blind, you might enjoy it better

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  13. I am not a fan of Jane Eyre retellings anyway so this is not one I would like I was curious about it though based on the cover but I am glad you steered me clear.

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  14. The blurb would have me intrigued as well, sorry this one didn't work out for you!

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  15. So sorry this didn't work for you, Braine! And it's so frustrating when we are promised one thing (hello, blurb!) and then we get something else. And I bet you were totally in the mood for a dark gothic story, too, only to have it devolve to a vulgar romance.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. Vulgar romance! Lol

      Nobody likes getting duped. I hope they edit the blurb on the next edition hahaha

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  16. Funny that we had almost the exact opposite reaction. I didn't love the beginning... I did like the premise, but it was too disjointed for me. I started liking it about the time you started to dislike it and by the end I really enjoyed it. I always like seeing how readers diverge in what we like. :) Brilly review!

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    1. That is so cool but at least we have a consensus of sorts in that Jane's character is disjointed between part 1 and the remaining portion of the book.

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  17. I haven't read Jane Eyre or any retellings, I am not a fan of retellings, although the blurb of this one did sound dark and intriguing. The first third sounds like the story you expect from the blurb, but that's weird it changes so much and the last two third read like an entire different book. I am sorry to hear this one didn't work for you. I hope your next read is better!

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    1. I was unable to follow the character development to justify the change. It wasn't even love, Jane just became almost a different person

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  18. Ah man! I saw this on your pile and was hoping it would be fabulous since it's a Jane Eyre retelling and I love that story. I like your plan for making it better. ;)

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    1. Hahaha, I'm sure Ms. Faye thinks differently

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  19. It's too bad that the book itself wasn't as good as the blurb! That's why I don't really read Jane Austen retellings; often their only connection to the original works is same character names. I hope Gail Carriger's Changeless worked out a lot better for you than this did!

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    1. It did, Lee! It's my mood, i started a contemporary novel last night and sped through it.

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  20. Oh growl. Hate when it starts out so promising then just...putters.

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  21. Dang it! I was all excited after reading that blurb and the beginning of your review, Braine. I get a little steamed when the book doesn't deliver on its promises - especially one like this. Too bad since it started out like a winner. :/

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  22. This is the first time I am seeing this one, and I was super excited for the half! It sounds dark and thrilling and just MY THING. But it sucks that didn't continue. :(

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