The Girl in the Steel Corset
by Kady Cross
Series: Steampunk Chronicles #1
Published: 24 May 2011
Harlequin Teen, Hardcover, 473 pages
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 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.
Should I describe The Girl in the Steel Corset in a single word, it would be unique. This is the very first through and through steampunk novel I’ve read (the others were only partially steampunk) and I’ve got to admit it’s really intriguing! Set in an alternate history of the Victorian Era, the technology and world was set apart from other YA novels.
The story had many main characters but few sub-characters, making the protagonists more colourful, but the atmosphere a little bit lacking without sufficient supporting characters. I liked most of the characters, my favourite being Finley (of course). She kind of have a duo-personality, a little bipolar, in modern terms. However, I can oddly connect with her (maybe I’m slightly bipolar…), understanding her struggles to take responsibility of whatever her ‘dark’ side did.
One amazing feat accomplished by Kady Cross was creating such alluring yet distinct male characters. By that I’m referring specifically to Griffin, Sam, Jasper and Jack. Every one of them had believable flaws and strengths. Portraying four major male leads at once must be pretty hard because many authors tend to lump them into one stereotypical model of the ‘perfect’ guy in cases like this.
The one drawback I found was the predictable and at some points boring plot. I almost immediately knew who The Machinist was and there was so little suspense even though there was supposed to be a mystery. Finley and Griffin’s dire need to hunt for the truth should have been better depicted and prominent to keep the mystery interesting. I found myself wondering what in the world their goal was quite a few times throughout the book.
Other than that, The Girl in the Steel Corset is definitely a pretty good read. The conclusion, though not a cliffhanger, was able to create enough suspense to pique your curiosity for the next installment. So if you’re looking for a brand new world set in the Victorian Era with plenty of captivating and peculiar characters, do pick this up!