The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
Published by Harlequin Teen on April 17th 2012
Series: Steampunk Chronicles #1
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 476 pages Source: Twitter Books for Trade
Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository • IndieBound
The Strange Case of Finley Jayne -98 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 and says she's special, says she's one of them . The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets, against the wises of his band of misfits. And Finley thinks she might finally be a part of something, finally fit in-until a criminal mastermind known as Machinist threatens to tear the group apart...
Finley Jayne has lost another position at another grand house and is running out of options. This time? Totally not her fault. And when she’s knocked unconscious, she’s lucky to wake up in Griffin’s grand estate where she is well-cared for an respected through his own generosity. The group she’s joining has troubles of their own, however.
There’s a madman on the loose, stealing relics of Queen Victoria. He calls himself the Machinist and they’ve met him before – last time, he nearly killed one of them. Finley causes rifts in trust, but brings in an ally from the wrong side of the tracks. Maybe together, they can find and stop the Machinist once and for all.
The concept here is really interesting, but Finley Jayne is such a bummer. She constantly guesses at her own strength (think Jekyll and Hyde) and covers beneath the men all while telling them she’s quite capable of taking care of herself, thank you very much.
The thing is – this book could be better. It could be so much better. The proof is in the text itself – The Girl in the Steel Corset includes a 100-ish page novella called The Strange Case of Finley Jayne. It’s a prequel to the story, and it’s really good. In the novella, Finley is strong, controlled, caring, and interesting. In the book, Finley is cautious, timid, silly, and frightened. Such opposites! WHY. If Finley’s character had carried over from the novella, this would have been excellent.
As far as the story goes, it’s interesting. The science built into the steampunk world is interesting and the ragamuffin group of misfits is interesting. I wish the characters were better explored and had a little more depth to them. They’re all interesting, but we really focus on surface traits like anger and jealousy and (ugh) the two love triangles.
Overall, I can see why I wasn’t particularly keen on this book after my first read. A lot of my opinions still stand – the dialect is a bit awkward, the female characters are very demure and self-effacing, and it just sort of drags on.
However, I do know that Kady Cross can do better with these characters. Because of The Strange Case of Finley Jayne, you can see all the potential. So I’m going to keep The Girl in the Clockwork Collar on my TBR and have hope.
The Girl in the Steel Corset gets donated.
Frankly, I don’t think I will reread this one again. I read it first on my Kindle and now I’ve read it in hardcopy, and I just don’t think it will ever become and instant favorite. I wish I had The Strange Case of Finley Jayne in a separate book, because I thought that novella was positively fantastic and great for a chilly October reread, but the rest of the book just didn’t impress me.