JANE STEELE by Lyndsay Faye

4I am, for the most part, very much a mood reader. At least until this time of year rolls around, where I become a seasonal reader. Hallowe’en, as we all know, is for horror. December, at least personally, is for science fiction (blame Star Wars books). I’ve never quite been able to figure out what November is for, though.⠀

At least not until a few weeks ago after I finished reading Agatha Christie’s Mystery of the Blue Train. November, I had decided, was for murder. ⠀

Which is why Jane Steele seemed like the best thing to pick up. “Reader, I murdered him,” is a strong enough line to hook anyone and, reader, it hooked me. ⠀

It’s all about the voice. I had read and loved Faye’s Dust and Shadow, her Sherlock Holmes affair, years ago, and the thing that struck me the most about it was how much it nailed the tone and atmosphere of those stories. Her Watson didn’t read like pastiche or homage. It read like Watson. ⠀

I felt similarly after reading this book. This is a Jane Eyre re-telling of sorts, and while I haven’t read that particular classic and so couldn’t tell you if Faye nails that baroque Brontë voice, I can definitely attest to the fact that this story achieves a pitch-perfect Gothic tone, bursting with delicious, melodramatic, murderous undertones.⠀

And although I ultimately enjoyed reading this book (it consists of well-realized, charming characters that positively sing), I did find that the story slowed considerably during the middle, leading to an ending that, while mostly satisfying, also felt a little disconnected to the story we were promised at the beginning. The first handful of chapters crackled with an energy that I found missing from the rest of the book, and I just thought that was a little disappointing.⠀

I still enjoyed reading the hell out of this book, however. It’s a wild ride. I can’t wait to hear the voice Lyndsay Faye captures next.

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