Review: Copperhead

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: CopperheadCopperhead by Tina Connolly
Series: Ironskin #2
Published by Tor Books on October 15, 2013
Genres: Historical, Paranormal, Steampunk
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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four-half-stars

The sequel to Tina Connolly's stunning historical fantasy debut.

Helen Huntingdon is beautiful—so beautiful she has to wear an iron mask. Six months ago her sister Jane uncovered a fey plot to take over the city. Too late for Helen, who opted for fey beauty in her face—and now has to cover her face with iron so she won’t be taken over, her personality erased by the bodiless fey.

Not that Helen would mind that some days. Stuck in a marriage with the wealthy and controlling Alistair, she lives at the edges of her life, secretly helping Jane remove the dangerous fey beauty from the wealthy society women who paid for it. But when the chancy procedure turns deadly, Jane goes missing—and is implicated in the murder.

Meanwhile, Alistair’s influential clique Copperhead—whose emblem is the poisonous copperhead hydra—is out to restore humans to their “rightful” place, even to the point of destroying the dwarvven who have always been allies.

Helen is determined to find her missing sister, as well as continue the good fight against the fey. But when that pits her against her own husband—and when she meets an enigmatic young revolutionary—she’s pushed to discover how far she’ll bend society’s rules to do what’s right. It may be more than her beauty at stake. It may be her honor...and her heart.

You know, it’s kind of funny, in a sad way, how the opinions of others can affect me. I really enjoyed Ironskin, but it wasn’t all that popular with most of my blogger friends. As such, I was a bit afraid that I wouldn’t like Copperhead, as though I had been in wrong in my own assessment. It’s sort of my natural state to doubt myself, though I wish it weren’t. Clearly, I should have trusted my opinion, because I really enjoyed Copperhead as well, marginally more than Ironskin in fact.

Now, if, like me, you enjoyed Ironskin and are moving onto Copperhead, you should be prepared for some changes. For one thing, we have a POV change. Jane’s not the MC and Rochart’s in one scene. The narrator of Copperhead is Jane’s sister, Helen. At first, I was a bit skeptical about this, because I really liked the stolid, competent Jane and wasn’t sure about her flighty sister, who married for money.

What’s so wonderful about this POV switch, though, is that you get to see beneath Helen’s surface. There is SO much more to Helen than the vain high society girl she pretends to be, and almost convinces herself that she actually is. Though Helen truly loves parties, dancing and clothes, she’s not empty-headed or weak. Watching her wake up to her own strength and cleverness is enchanting.

In fact, all of Copperhead really highlights the strength of women. There’s a fairly large cast of ladies, and they’re all upheld in their own ways. In addition to Helen, I completely adore Frye, an outspoken actress who does scandalous things like wear pants. At first glance, these women are all gorgeous, made over with the fey faces by Rochart in the first book, and presumably vain. They’re the leaders of society, emulated by other women, pampered and spoiled. When the chips are down, however, these women are strong and willing to take risks to save themselves and their city. The feminism of the novel was my favorite aspect, especially since so much historical fiction fails to show that side of women.

The plot revolves around those fey faces given to a hundred high society people, mostly women. Turns out, those faces aren’t safe, as they each contain a bit of the fey. Jane and Helen are planning to replace those faces with the women’s original faces to keep them safe from the fey, who can take them over if they don’t cover their faces with iron. Meanwhile, Copperhead, a political party run by husbands of the Hundred, has created a machine to kill fey, and is trying to eradicate both them and the dwarvven, hating all things inhuman. So, basically, Copperhead is comprised of a bunch of terrible men, who, by and large, are terrible to their wives, having bullied them into the fey faces and putting restrictions on what they can do. I thought the plot was really cool and, though different, makes a nice complement to Ironskin. Plus, the way they women come to realize that they actually do not want their fey faces is such a wonderful message about beauty. Seriously, this book, I want to hug it.

Oh, also, there’s the cutest romance. One that, like everything else, is totally non-standard. I don’t want to spoil it, but, gah, so much adorable. Every message in this book is a good one. Copperhead is about women’s rights, about second chances, and about acceptance of those that are different from yourself.

What it comes down to is that I cannot recommend Copperhead highly enough. Tina Connolly’s debut was good, but Copperhead knocks it out of the water with its powerful messages and strong women.

Favorite Quote:

“And yet, if you can’t promise me that you will incite no more men by throwing bugs on them, I think you’d better have an escort. You know. For their safety.”

12 responses to “Review: Copperhead”

  1. Dragana M. says:

    I enjoyed Ironskin too, although as you said, it’s not a very popular book. I’m glad to hear that you liked Copperhead even more.
    I was aware based on summary that they will probably change the POV to Helen, so that will be no surprise to me. 🙂
    Now I am even more excited and looking forward to reading Copperhead (and finding out more about that non-standard adorable romance sub-plot).
    Dragana M. recently posted…Book Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie KagawaMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I just checked out Ironskin on GR and the rating’s really low. Not sure why that is, but oh well. It happens. It’s nice to be the happy sheep sometimes.

      My lack of reading blurbs is showing again, huh?

      The romance. *pets it* So cute.

      • Dragana M. says:

        I didn’t check it out before but really 3.31? Book is well written and interesting. I think the problem is too many people read it because they loved Brones novel and then they were insulted how their favorite writer was interpreted… And I guess being the black sheep goes both ways. 🙂

        Just a little bit. 😀 I usually don’t read blurbs too but here I was intrigued why is another model on the cover. 🙂
        Dragana M. recently posted…Top Ten Covers I Wish I Could RedesignMy Profile

        • Christina Franke says:

          Ha, I guess. I thought it was a pretty nifty interpretation myself, but, then again, I’m not a Jane Eyre fangirl, because I think Rochester is a lying douchecrate. Black sheep does go both ways. 🙂

          Oh well, that makes sense!

  2. I didn’t know that Helen was the narrator in this one! I loved IRONSKIN. I can’t wait to get into COPPERHEAD!
    Becky LeJeune recently posted…New Releases 11/12/13My Profile

  3. Morgan says:

    Sounds really intriguing and what a beautiful cover! I love when sequels are better than their predecessors and I love historical fantasy. Ironskin is at my local library, I’ll have to check it out!

  4. The change of POV can be interesting. I liked Jane, but I’m definitely interested to see more of Helen. It’s great when there is more going on with a character when you get to know them. And I adore characters who stand up for their rights like Frye. The plot sounds very cool! The things I disliked about Ironskin was the fact I was a little bored and I didn’t care for the romance. I think this book will provide me with more action and a romance I can root for. Thanks for sharing your wonderful review. I’m definitely looking forward to read this book 🙂
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Review 213. Anna Ursu – Breadcrumbs.My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Ha, I actually liked the Jane/Rochart better than Jane/Rochester, but the romance in Copperhead is MUCH better. Also, so many sassy women. And it’s a bit lighter. Probably less boring for you too. 🙂

  5. Molli says:

    Oh goodness! Oh man. Tor sent me Ironskin awhile back and I have been pretty much dying to read it since then. I don’t recall reading very many reviews of it, which I remember made me sad since it sounds so good. I’m glad the POV switch ended up being something you liked – it can be rough once you get used to one character, knowing you’ll be reading about one you didn’t love.

    Also if this book features all sorts of strong women that makes me so happy. I’m gonna try to get to Ironskin!
    Molli recently posted…Reader Recommendations Review: Poison Princess by Kresley ColeMy Profile

  6. Anya says:

    Woot! I just finished Ironskin last week and adored it, so I’m really excited to hear that Copperhead is even better :D. I’m glad I know going in that Jane and Rochart are kind of out of the picture, since the whole companion vs. sequel is kind of hard to tell sometimes, haha.
    Anya recently posted…The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Read-a-long! {Week 1}My Profile

  7. Becca says:

    I’m soooo glad to see other people who liked Ironskin! I loved that book, but completely forgot to check up on the author to see if there was anything new. I don’t remember caring too much for Helen in Ironskin, but it sounds like she has a lot more depth in Copperhead, so off to do some reading! 🙂
    Becca recently posted…Now time for something differentMy Profile

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