March 23, 2016 • Cee • Reviews

Jane Steele

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye • March 22, 2016 • Putnam Books (Penguin)
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“Reader, I murdered him.”

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement. Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents—the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him—body, soul, and secrets—without revealing her own murderous past?


I received this book for free from Putnam Books for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First sentence: “Of all my murders, committed for love and for better reasons, the first was the most important. “

Serial killer Jane, qu’est-ce que c’est?

You know what’s missing in your life? A gothic retelling of Jane Eyre with a murderess twist! I present to you—Jane Steele. You’ll be utterly charmed by this dark story about Jane Steele, who has suffered through many heartaches and tormentors, but she refuses to let them destroy her. She’s a survivor. If that means she has to kill her tormentors, so be it.


  • Four words: Serial killer Jane Eyre.

If that isn’t enough to convince you to read Jane Steele, I don’t know what will. ;)

Jane Eyre may not be my favorite classic literature book, but when you put a murderess twist to it, I will instantly be on board with it.

  • Jane Steele will do whatever it takes to survive, even if it means killing.

Jane Steele is quite an admirable character for not letting herself become a victim against these terrible people trying to hurt her. Because of her circumstances, she has to be cunning. She’ll lie, steal, and kill if it’s necessary for her survival. This woman will throw herself down stairs to make sure she isn’t caught. Her commitment to her actions earn my respect.

Jane Steele doesn’t kill just for the hell of it. She’s getting rid of evil in the world. This woman is unapologetic about her kills. Why should she when they’ve tried to hurt her or the people she loves? Jane Steele is someone you’d want on your side because she is fiercely loyal to the people she loves, and sometimes, you need a killer friend.

  • It’s inspired by the gothic Jane Eyre.

From Jane Steele’s affection for the book to the way her life plays out, you can see so much of Jane Eyre in this book. An excerpt from Jane Eyre precedes each chapter. Jane Eyre is an idol for Steele. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a bracelet that said “WWJED—What would Jane Eyre do?” This book may follow a similar narrative structure to the Classic, but it branches off into its own unique story.

  • The gorgeous writing will leave you stunned and wanting. 

It’s absolutely superb, and so goddamn clever. It’s dark, and has an underlying of humor in it. You’ll find yourself grinning or gasping or grabbing ahold of something. I could feel every thrill and confusion that Jane felt as if they were my own emotions. I bookmarked so many lines because they were all so splendid.

  • Jane Steele surrounds herself with a group of amazing people.

Growing up, Jane Steele didn’t have any friends growing up aside from her mother and their maid, Agatha. When she is sent to Lowan Bridge School, she meets her first truest friend, Rebecca Clarke. You get to see Jane explore this newfound friendship that makes her a better person. Clarke brings out a fiercely loyal and protective Jane, which readers will see again when she meets various other characters who will change her life.

When Jane infiltrates Highgate House years later, she meets three characters who consume Jane’s every waking moment. There’s Charles Thornfield, a charming army doctor from the Sikh Wars who harbors secrets from his past; Sardar Singh, the Sikh butler who is not really the butler and has been friends with Thornfield for years; and Sahjara Kaur, Thornfield’s ward who Jane looks after and has an immense love for horses. These characters become dear to Jane, and when you meet them, it’s no surprise why Jane would become attached to them. They bring out the best of Jane. They don’t judge her for her quirks; they embrace it. It’s hard not to be charmed by them.

  • It incorporates Sikh culture and religion into the story in an intriguing and respectful manner.

Readers get to learn about the Sikh Wars that Thornfield and Singh were fighting in, and the culture and religion of Thornfield’s household staff. It isn’t incorporated just for the hell of it; it’s embedded into the seams of the book like a pillar that holds the story up. It breathes so much culture and history. I was absolutely riveted by the tales of the Khalsa conflict. It’s carefully researched, and you can see that in Lyndsay Faye’s writing. I just wanted to learn more.

Should you read Jane Steele? YES, especially if you love, have read, or know about Jane Eyre! It’s a fun homage that’ll absolutely charm you. It just opens up a discussion for so many wonderful things. Besides, how can you say no to a serial killer Jane Eyre-esque book? You simply can’t! The lovely characters, the amazing writing, the riveting mystery, the satisfying murders, Jane Steele is a book you need to read right now.


5 Responses to “REVIEW • Serial Killer Jane Eyre (Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye)”

  1. I loved this one, too — the Sikh culture, Jane as a serial killer, Thornfield (YES!). Definitely a favorite of this year so far

    my review

  2. SOLD. SOLD. SOLD. This sounds incredible and I MUST HAVE IT. Seriously…what more can I say?

  3. Love your review, Cee! You definitely did our dear Jane justice! ;)
    Now I want a bracelet with WWJD on it. And the J can stand for both Janes. Can we start making these please?
    I already kind of miss this book.

  4. Alexa S. says:

    I really love this cover! I think I need to read Jane Eyre first, then possibly keep this one in mind to read afterwards ;)

  5. Ahhhh!!!! I saw this at the library and didn’t check it out because I have too many books checked out already, but I am regretting that choice!!!!

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