The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1) by Kady Cross
Source: netGalley / Harlequin
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the “thing” inside her…
When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a fullgrown man with one punch….
Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.
Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.
But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on—even if it seems no one believes her.
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I was immediately intrigued when I read the official blurb on netGalley since The Girl in the Steel Corset is a delightful example of YA steampunk. It has all of the tech and gadgetry that I love about steampunk, awesome Victorian England clothes, and a motley but lovely gang of characters. My favourite of the bunch was Emily, with her Scottish accent and impeccable brain, though Griffin, Jasper, Jack, and Finley were also great fun. I wasn’t so fussy about Sam but that’s probably because he’s the downer of the bunch, rather depressed about the fact that he’s part automaton.
Kady Cross has done a wonderful job of capturing the spirit and soul of steampunk in this novel. The technology’s all there with some great names and tweaks that help set her work apart from others in the genre. I loved her world building so much. In fact, I think it’s one of the greatest strengths of The Girl in the Steel Corset. I also really liked the idea that Finley has these two very disparate personalities and that her story arc is that she has to reconcile these two very different sides of herself. I think it’s a topic that everyone can identify with and it makes Finley a very relatable character. It also harkens back to the idea of Jekyll and Hyde. In fact, there are a lot of elements in The Girl with the Steel Corset that reference classic stories like this. The other one that jumps to mind is Sam and the Frankenstein stories (which I think gets mentioned directly in the text). There are other references as well but these are the two most prominent ones. I also liked the supernatural element that the story has, with the Aether and Griffin’s ability to manipulate it. If you read this blog on a (semi-)regular basis, you’ll know I’m a big fan of things that go bump in the night so I’m always excited to see these elements incorporated into other genres. Kady Cross uses it in a very interesting way that really adds to the story and I’m looking forward to seeing where she goes next since the end of The Girl in the Steel Corset really sets you up for a sequel.
As always, I’m grateful to HarlequinTEEN and netGalley for this review copy. I read this one while vacationing in St. Pierre et Miquelon and it was the perfect summer read: lots of adventure, intrigue, and gizmos! I can’t wait to read The Strange Case of Finley Jayne, a prequel novella available for free on the HarlequinTEEN site until April 2012.
Need some more incentivizing? Check out the trailer: