She's No Angel: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Chrisbookarama Review of audiobook Jane Steele


Did you ever wonder how Jane Eyre's life would have turned out if she took to murdering all the people who wronged her? No? I know I thought about it a few times as I read Jane Eyre. Those people were the worst. A few could have made Jane's life easier by falling down a well.

With a little push
Jane Steele read Jane Eyre, loved it, then decided to write her own memoir. She saw that there were similarities between their stories, with one huge exception: Jane Steele is a killer.

This Jane is also an orphan housed by a jealous relative. Jane's first murder is more of an accident, really. She escapes punishment by getting shipped off to a London boarding school that makes Lowood look like Hogwarts. Her second murder is much more intentional and she finds herself hiding in the low places of London. From there, she commits a succession of murders until she sees an advertisement in the papers. The new owner of her childhood home is looking for a governess. Jane believes the estate is hers and she lost it once she disappeared into the bowels of London. Now she sees a way back.

It's not as easy as dumping a body into the Thames this time though. Jane is drawn to the new owner Charles Thornfield*, his charming ward, and capable Sikh butler. All is not as it appears on the surface either. The inhabitants have their secrets, ones that could destroy them if they fell into the wrong hands.

Jane Steele is pitched as a "serial killer Jane Eyre" which is a bit misleading. Jane Steele isn't hunting down men and making skin lamps out of them. These guys are bad dudes who hurt the people Jane loves. Where Jane Eyre would just silently judge them with her sad eyes, Jane Steele pushes them into wood chippers while humming "Taking Care of Business." ** Jane is no sad Thomas Hardy heroine (with the exception of the last part in Tess). It's a man world, baby, and a woman suffers in it. Jane is just shaking up the status quo, even out things somewhat by dispatching these miserable jerks.

This book, Jane Steele. It's like Lyndsay Faye read Jane Eyre and said, "You know what would make this book better: murders. Also if there were missing diamonds. And...and if Jane weren't such a prude." Then she added a sprinkling of Sarah Waters in there with the shady side of London.

That might be too much
And it works! It's entertaining. Jane is tough, but lovable. She's loyal to a fault. She's a survivor. Charles Thornfield is a more palpable hero for the modern reader than Mr Rochester (I still love him though). He's done some things he's not proud of, he's protective of his family, and he's open minded. He doesn't try to trick anyone into marriage either. Then there is Helen Bu... I mean, Rebecca
Clarke. I want to read her memoirs. I bet they'd be spicy.

You couldn't have Jane Steele without Jane Eyre- still my favorite book ever. Jane Eyre was ground breaking for 19th century feminism. Jane Steele is fun! You will enjoy it.

Again. No robots here.
*Yep, that's his name.
**Metaphorically speaking

About the Audio: Susie Riddell narrated this first person account. I am convinced she is Jane Steele now. She also did the narration for Jane Airhead, so I guess Jane Eyre retellings are her jam.

Thanks to Penguin Random House for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

Jane Steele

15 comments:

  1. I'm kicking myself for not accepting this book.

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    1. I wasn't sure until I saw another blogger review it. Then I had to have it!

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  2. awesome review, I am totally keeping my eye out for this.

    Plus, Phoebe. Those GIFs made this.

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    1. I had to use them. They were too perfect.

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  3. Great review! Adding to my list...

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  4. That settles it. I need this book now.

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  5. I am seeing this book around and definitely will have to read it at some point!

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  6. I actually read an adaptation of Jane Eyre with cyborgs once. But anyway... I didn't accept this for review for some reason. Obviously not one of my brighter moments.

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  7. By which I mean, the book had cyborgs in it, not that I was reading the book with cyborgs

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  8. Hooray! I'm glad you read it -- and liked it. It is really fun and also stands on its own as a novel of a feisty Victorian.
    Meaghan @ mwgerard.com

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    1. It really does! I don't think a reader needs to have read Jane Eyre to enjoy it. Though they should read Jane Eyre too.

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  9. I so can't wait for this book to come in!

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