The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1) - Kady Cross
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
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 (Description from Goodreads)
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I'd only read one steampunk book before 'The Girl in the Steel Corset' and that was Cassandra Clare's 'Clockwork Angel'; so I was really looking forward to jumping into another steampunk novel and finding out what the genre felt like minus the vampires and magic. I think I assumed too much about the genre, believing it would only contain crazy inventions set in a Victorian era. 'The Girl in the Steel Corset' did bring about its own magic and I can't say I was unhappy about it, I like added powers floating around my stories; but it definitely exceeded my expectations when it came to inventions and not only was it set in the Victorian era, but there was even a surprise visit from Queen Victorian herself (loved the 'not amused' reference).
The people of London are terrified. The mechanical beings – automatons – that frequently used as servants, are running wild, killing and destroying throughout London. The fear that these automatons will take over leads to the mystery of who is controlling them: The Machinist. This is where our main characters come into focus, in their attempts to uncover who The Machinist is and stop his plans to cause trouble all over London.
At times I was a little overwhelmed by the extent of the inventions. I was impressed with the mechanical creations Cross added into her story, particularly with the automatons. But at times I felt like there were too many inventions to keep up with. I shouldn’t be too shocked; we have just as many (and more) in modern society, but with extra functions on velocycles to make them go faster, portable telegram devices, and machines that were able to type up random bits of information just by asking it to do so, it was a bit too much for me. However, I definitely felt like I understood what steampunk meant because of it and I would probably have been disappointed if there were fewer inventions in the story. It definitely made things more interesting.
Finley is such a strong female lead. She stands up for herself, even in a time where woman (and servants, as she is at the beginning of the novel) were not always able to voice their own opinions. She's fierce and intelligent and gets to wear a cool steel corset! Of course, Finley has her faults, particularly the Jekyll-Hyde thing she's got going on for her, but the unknown qualities of the two personalities made her become a mystery that was waiting to be unravelled for most of the book. I loved the balance between the two sides of Finley: on the one hand you have her proper lady-like manner, and on the other, the dark, dangerous Finley who can throw people around and cause some serious damage.
I’ve been reading a lot more third person novels these days, and every time I stumble across another one it makes me like the style more and more. I love that we’re not limited to one person’s views; while I do still feel slightly disconnected from characters while reading third person, I don’t find it as hard to settle into the story anymore. I was glad to see more than 2 characters in the spotlight: Finley, Griffin and Sam. While I expected Finley and Griffin to be the main storytellers, it was really interesting to be seeing Sam’s point of view and following his journey, because he doesn’t think like Griffin and he’s definitely not as trusting. It provided a well balanced story.
Finley is not without her pursuers, in fact she finds herself getting attention from two pretty cool guys. The Duke, Griffin King, who is nothing but kind to her and instantly includes Finley in his close circle of friends. And Jack Dandy, local Crime Lord, who is dark and unknown, but takes an interest in Finley early in the novel. I feel like I’m going to be disappointed in the long run with the love interests, but I fell for Mr. Dandy pretty hard. He reminded me of George Cooper from Tamora Pierce’s ‘Song of the Lioness Quartet’. Leader of the underground crime division, who is technically better-off than he makes it seem and who (I imagine) will wait patiently until his lady comes to her senses and realises he’s the one for her. I hope we see a lot more of Jack in the next book.
Looking forward to the next book.
Originally posted on Goodreads