“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 full-grown man….
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 against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a 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 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 no one believes her.”
Thoughts: Steampunk is such a fun genre. To see an author’s vision of the past as it might have been had the use of steam been more prolific and accessible is always amusing. In Kady Cross’ version of the past, not only does she create a vibrant world filled with futuristic gadgets and appliances, she also creates a world where evolution occurs much faster than it should thanks to mysterious organisms found underneath the Earth’s crust. Combined together, these elements set the backdrop for the entertaining story that is The Girl in the Steel Corset.
Finley Jayne has some issues. In modern-day parlance, one might accuse Finley of having a major case of PMS, even if her mood swings are more frequent than hormones would explain. She vacillates between meek humility to murderous rage in fractions of a second. This darkness, or her other side, attracts her to Griffin King, someone with his own mysterious secrets and more money and power than any one person should have. What ensues is the typical paranormal romantic fare with a steampunk twist.
The Girl in the Steel Corset is not going to win any awards for literary genius. While pleasurable, there is a triviality to the story that prevents a reader from becoming wholly absorbed in it. The writing is trite at times, and there is an uneven balance between descriptions and character development, as if Ms. Cross could not decide on which of the two to concentrate. The result is a jaggedness to the flow of the story, which unfolds in fits and starts as it waffles between action, establishing the setting, and character insight.
With elements of Terminator and other stories in which robots (aka automatons) run amok, The Girl in the Steel Corset is decidedly familiar, while the Victorian elements of the story build the sense of unfamiliar that is essential to the creation of tension in any novel. Finley is an intriguing heroine, capable of supporting herself and yet surprisingly fragile and sympathetic.While it is not the strongest new release in the YA genre, reading it is still a pleasurable way to spend an afternoon or two.
Acknowledgments: Mine. All mine.