Bottom Line: The weakest of the series – predictable and boring
“When mechanical genius Emily is kidnapped by rogue automatons, Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What’s left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons—or forfeit her friends’ lives.With Griffin being mysteriously tormented by the Aether, the young duke’s sanity is close to the breaking point. Seeking help, Finley turns to Jack Dandy, but trusting the master criminal is as dangerous as controlling her dark side. When Jack kisses her, Finley must finally confront her true feelings for him…and for Griffin.Meanwhile, Sam is searching everywhere for Emily, from Whitechapel’s desolate alleyways to Mayfair’s elegant mansions. He would walk into hell for her, but the choice she must make will test them more than they could imagine.To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist’s ultimate creation—an automaton more human than machine. And if she’s to have any chance of triumph, she must summon a strength even she doesn’t know she has….”
Thoughts: As the third story in the Steampunk Chronicles, The Girl with the Iron Touch is definitely getting stale. The plot arc is too familiar, as it is the same one that was used in the first two novels. There are no big reveals or major character development. The series plot progresses predictably. There are very few surprises and the plot twists only serve to lengthen the novel rather than create misdirection. The ubiquitous cliffhanger is nothing but an annoyance at this point in time, as the series has lost all sense of urgency that makes cliffhangers so effective. Even the romantic elements feel overused, as they continue to skirt around their feelings for one another.
Still, fans of the story will rejoice that Emily, the brilliance behind their gang, gets her chance to shine in the spotlight. Readers get the chance to climb into her head for a bit and understand her motivations and past. Her particular battle with the Machinist is every bit as satisfying as Sam’s and Finley’s were before her, and while the ending may leave some quite frustrated, it does highlight her determination and spirit.
Jasper and Jack have very small roles in this third novel, and the story definitely suffers. Jack still remains the mysterious bad/good guy that he has been since the beginning, and Ms. Cady is proving to be very stingy in revealing more of his secrets. Considering he is one of the more enjoyable characters, if not the most enjoyable character, this omission is to the detriment of the series, especially as his role moves beyond being the third element of a love triangle to becoming the go-to guy for information and back-up in battles. Meanwhile, Jasper’s existence in the novel feels more like an add-on, as if Ms. Cady doesn’t know what to do with his character now that his love interest is dead. He neither contributes much to the progression of the story nor plays a key role in any of the scenes. As the characters pair off more definitively, one only hopes that we see more of Jack and Jasper and less of the romantic couples.
The Girl with the Iron Touch is unfortunately a mediocre addition to a series that has lost its special something. The storyline is too formulaic, resulting in a plot that readers can predict prior to even reading the first page. Emily’s viewpoint is definitely refreshing, but the time spent with her narrative is relatively short as the point of view turns back to Finley’s for a majority of the novel. There was a distinct lack of cool steampunk gadgets, a la James Bond, and even the action scenes feel flat. Apparently, once you bring down a building in battle, everything else just pales in comparison. The disappointing experience that is The Girl with the Iron Touch is made more so by how creative and unique the first novel was and by the surprising turn of events in the second novel. One can only hope that in the next novel, Ms. Cady throws away her plot structure and brings back the creativity that made the first two books so enjoyable.