Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
A note: I am the literary fiction, inspiring memoir, occasional gentle mystery book barista. Dark and twisty, full of suspense and a reasonable amount of gore, police procedural…that is the other book barista. We both, however, like a good story…
“We tell stories to strangers to ingratiate ourselves, stories to lovers to better adhere us skin to skin, stories in our heads to banish demons. When we tell the truth, often we are callous. When we tell lies, often we are kind. Through it all, we tell stories, and we own an uncanny knack for the task.”
As a lover of Jane Eyre (one of my favorite books ever, read and re-read even with new fiction in my stack), picking up Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye (The Gods of Gotham)was a no-brainer. I won’t go so far as to read Jane Eyre remakes with zombies–that is definitely a line I respect– but, despite how preposterous it sounded, I was willing to go for Jane the serial murderer. Turns out, this isn’t a retelling, it is a story about a woman with Jane Eyre like symptoms and plot parallels, from a similar era, with writing that feels Bronte-esque, but that is where the comparison ends.
“Reader, I murdered him.”
Jane Steele is an orphan in unfortunate circumstances: mistreated, unloved as a child, sent away, lied to, abused. Jane Steele has a fortunate personality: clever, plucky, determined, a keen sense of justice. Each time she is wronged, I as reader wished to write a revenge chapter. No need! Jane takes care of business herself by murdering her protagonist. Each murder adds a little to the suspense, because Jane needs to escape suspicion. Jane isn’t awful, and her motives are more virtuous than her crimes reflect.
I loved the writing, I loved the suspense, I enjoyed the characters. I loved that names are clues, I loved being transported to Victorian England. Jane Steele is a satisfying story with a great ending. What more can I ask for?