Title: The Girl with the Windup Heart
Author: Kady Cross
No. of Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Origins: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: 27 May 2014
Bottom Line: Decent ending to an okay series
“1897 London, a final showdown is about to begin
London’s underworld is no place for a young woman, even one who is strong, smart and part-automaton like Mila. But when master criminal Jack Dandy inadvertently breaks her heart, she takes off, determined to find an independent life, one entirely her own. Her search takes her to the spangled shadows of the West End’s most dazzling circus.
Meanwhile, taken captive in the Aether, Griffin King is trapped in an inescapable prison, and at the mercy of his archenemy, The Machinist. If he breaks under the hellish torment, The Machinist will claim his powers and control of the Aether itself, and no one in either world will be safe—especially not Finley Jayne and her misfit band of friends.
Finley plunges headlong into the Aether the only way she knows how, by temporarily dying. But she cannot parry The Machinist’s maneuvers for long. To defeat him for good, Griffin will have to confront his greatest fear and finally come face-to-face with the destructive power he wields.”
Thoughts: After five books and numerous novellas, Kady Cross’ Steampunk Chronicles finally come to an end. This rocky series has seen its share of ups-and-downs. Weak subplots, rushed action, and fairly one-dimensional characters make up a majority of the stories. Yet, there is something entertaining about Finley’s story that kept readers coming back for more. The Girl with the Windup Heart is no different in that regard but has the added bonus of a sense of real closure to the series.
The Girl with the Windup Heart is really two stories combined into one. Because apparently everyone in the series must end up as a part of a couple, the one person still relationship-free is Jack. So, Jack’s burgeoning relationship with Mila makes up more than half the novel. While it is entertaining to see a different, softer side of Jack, in reality this subplot has absolutely nothing to do with the main story other than making sure once and for all that Finley and Jack will never be a couple. It’s an amusing side story but distracting all the same.
Meanwhile, while Jack fights his feelings for Mila, the rest of the group is tackling The Machinist in a final showdown. This is ultimately where the series has been leading readers from the very beginning. It unfolds in typical fashion, following the same structure as previous battles. Just as the other battles have all been learning scenarios for the individual group members to learn and accept their individual powers and limitations, Griffith is the last one to do so. That he must do it in order to defeat the “greatest mastermind of all time” is neither shocking, climactic, or suspenseful. If anything, this part of the story very much feels redundant.
Still, there is a lot to be said about closure, and The Girl with the Windup Heart has it in spades. The writing might still be trite, the characters still flat and undeveloped, and the action rote and rushed. However, everyone has a loved one. Everyone knows and accepts their powers. They know what is causing those powers. Together, they saved the world, or at least London, multiple times over. Their greatest foe is gone, and now they can all live happily ever after. Really, in such a simple series, one cannot ask for more than that.