by Tina Connolly
Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
Review by Drew Bittner
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765330604
Date: 15 October 2013 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In Ironskin, teacher Jane Eliot uncovered a fey plot at great personal cost. Now it's her sister Helen's turn...
As Copperhead opens, the fey invasion has been checked, but now uncanny blue stuff coats buildings and streets like cotton candy snowfall. Helen, the flirty and seemingly scatterbrained sister of ironskin Jane Eliot, is at the center of the action, as a cabal of upper class gentlemen have organized a club called Copperhead--with the intent of eradicating the fey once and for all.
Helen's husband Alistair hopes to climb socially through this group, but Jane warns her that their intentions are extremely dangerous. The group's leader, Grimsby, is a brute and a tyrant, announcing his plans to carry the war even to the dwarvven, humanity's ally.
Jane undertakes a dangerous plan to help The Hundred, wives of the richest and most powerful women in the city (who wear faces tainted with fey essence, making them susceptible to fey enchantment), but her efforts are overthrown due to Grimsby's relentless animosity toward her. She is forced to flee into hiding and Helen is left to bear the brunt of Alistair's drunken rages.
Despite the help of the roguish Rook, who helps Copperhead for his own reasons, Helen is forced to test an ability she cannot trust and to seek Jane on her own in the most dangerous parts of town.
All this with agents of Copperhead breathing down her neck.
Unless Helen can get to the truth behind Copperhead, its weird technology and the note of falsehood in their stated plans, there might well be another war with the fey...this time, with a very different outcome.
Author Tina Connolly has penned a worthy, engaging follow up to her novel Ironskin, putting the focus on Helen this time and showing that she might be a social climber and overly concerned with appearances, but she is also brave and has a true heart. Her struggles with a bad marriage, made from a place of desperation, are strongly written and echo the struggles of women throughout history; Helen must overcome a great deal first if she hopes to help the rest of mankind.
As an outcast among his own people (both of them), Rook is a sympathetic character, a trickster, and a joker, whose guilty secrets are disguised by his sunny nature. Like Helen, he has a burden of shame to bear and perhaps is the best person to help Helen escape her own shadows.
Grimsby is a terrific villain, blustering one moment and crafty-cunning the next. He keeps the heroines on their toes by often doing the unexpected, with an agenda readers likely would not imagine.
With plenty of derring-do and magic in the mix, this book is sure to please fans of alternate historical fantasy.