Desert Isle Keeper
The literary world is absolutely ripe these days with retellings. Retellings of fairy tales, retellings of classics, adding vampires, demons, zombies, what-have-you. Jane Steele, instead of adding zombies to the source material, uses the classic Jane Eyre as an inspiration to a new story and a new Jane. A Jane who also happens to be a bit of a murderess.
Jane Steele, like the heroine of her new favorite novel Jane Eyre, has had a rough childhood. Her aunt sent her off to boarding school, where she and her classmates were basically starved and abused by their sadistic schoolmaster. Jane has been called wicked more than once, much like Miss Eyre, but in Jane’s case, it might just be true. After all, the ones who torture her are frequently found dead.
After all, she says herself, “Reader, I murdered him.”
Jane finds herself a fugitive, trying to make a living, when she sees an ad for a governess at her former home, Highgate House. She finds herself negotiating her past while trying to unravel a mystery that has presented itself – what are the members of the household, Mr. Thornfield and others, running from? And what secrets does Sahjara, the young ward, hold? On top of that, how will Jane deal with her burgeoning feelings towards Mr. Thornfield, when she can’t share her past and her secrets?
If you are looking for a direct retelling, this is not a story for you. Instead of using Jane Steele to retell Jane Eyre, Ms. Faye has created a brand new story, obviously inspired by the classic, but not a copy. Even if you aren’t a Jane Eyre fan, or haven’t read the book, the basics are pretty much laid out for the reader. Our narrator, Jane herself, remarks on the similarities of their stories, but takes us far, far past the source material.
What I absolutely loved was how the darkness of the story works with the Gothic setting and the original material. On top of that, we get a wonderful sensuality (and sexuality) that gives the story an indulgent feel that made me think I was pampering myself.
I was trying to think of things I didn’t really like, or that I had issues with, and I got nothing. There are moments that are a little slow, I guess, but that not only fits the genre, but fits the story. Basically, Jane Steele was an imaginary way to tell a familiar tale, while remaining truly original.
Reader, I loved it.