REVIEW: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Jane Steele / Lyndsay Faye

Reader, I liked it. I didn’t love it but it was okay.

Judging by the way it was marketed, I expected more killings. I got the gore but when you tell me that a character is a “serial killer”, I expect an impressive body count.

Jane Steele is a very loose retelling of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. As you know, that is my favorite book of all time. I try to reread that once every year but when I saw this, I figured this could take its place this year. In that regard, I did enjoy this book. It doesn’t hide the fact that it’s based on Eyre because Miss Steele herself is a fan of the book and refers to it from time to time. The Mr. Rochester of this book is named Thornfield, the name of the hall where Mr. Rochester lived. Author Lyndsay Faye went even further; the Bronte sisters went to Cowan Bridge School while Jane Steele went to Lowan Bridge, mixing in Jane Eyre’s alma mater, Lowood School. With me so far? Jane Steele also had an antagonistic aunt and then later becomes a governess for a little girl. She later quits her job once she recognizes her true feelings towards her employer only to come back to him. Looking at it like that, it follows the events of the source material closely.

(I should know. My NaNoWriMo 2010 entry was a Generation Kill fan fiction slash based on Jane Eyre.)

But that is where the similarities end.

If you’ve read Jane Eyre, you might have an easier time reading this. The writing is quite similar to the tone of Charlotte Bronte’s work. Very flowery words, very verbose and poetic. The pace is much faster because it doesn’t dwell on the little details. I’m very, very familiar with Jane Eyre so I read some parts of this book so fast that it was almost skimming. It does slow down by the time Jane Steele finds herself at Thornfield. It was like the author was trying to make it interesting without taking much from the original work. My bias was looking for counterparts of the original characters but hey, I can’t have them all.

Like I said, I enjoyed it. The author did a good job setting and maintaining the tone of the book. The language was beautiful. I connected with the characters easily. Clarke is a great character and I wish there was more of her. The romance between Mr. Thornfield and Jane Steele I felt came out of nowhere but I was satisfied in the end. But I expected more. At first, I thought this was my Eyre bias talking but my main issue with this book is the lack of serial killing. When I read the premise, the image in my mind was of dark and psychopathic murders, leaving bodies left and right. I didn’t get that. Jane was actually a good person, all of her murders were justified. It was unclear whether she gains satisfaction in her kills but overall, she sort of didn’t want to do it. Eh? The hook, “Reader, I murdered him,” was so misleading. I thought she was going to kill an important character but most of her kills were almost in self-defense.

In that sense, I was kind of disappointed. This had potential to be something like Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. But alas, my dear readers, it was not.

Rating: 3/5. I might still have to reread Jane Eyre after all.

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9 thoughts on “REVIEW: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

  1. Ah, that’s disappointing. I haven’t read it yet, and I also was expecting more kills. Oh well… I also haven’t read Jane Eyre, maybe I start with reading the classic first.

    Liked by 1 person

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