Sunday, July 17, 2011

Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

The Girl in the Steel Corset
By Kady Cross
Publication date: May 24, 2011

My review:

There is something different about Finley Jayne. It is more than her inability to hold on to a job or her attitude. Her latest job as a maid to the August-Raynes family comes to an abrupt end when their son Felix tries to take advantage of her. Finley fights back spectacularly with inhuman strength and runs off into the night, certain she'd be arrested otherwise. What is this monster lurking inside her that breaks free when she is angry or in danger? She can hear its dark thoughts and knows they are not her own. Thankfully for Finley, she runs into Griffin King, the young Duke of Greythorne. If there is anyone who can help her find the answers she seeks about herself, it is Griffin. Like Griffin, Emily and Sam, the other members of his household, have special abilities such as the ability to heal quickly and supernatural strength. Finley fits in with Griffin's makeshift family though Sam does not trust her. Griffin has enough to worry about with mysterious thefts and the British government hounding him for answers. With a powerful automaton wreaking havoc and the appearance of a sinister enemy, Griffin must discover the truth about his family and Finley Jayne before it is too late.

The Girl in the Steel Corset is an entertaining steampunk novel set in an alternate Victorian London. Finley Jayne is not always a likeable character. She can be kind and she can also be a rebellious "bad girl". There is a reason behind this that is explored in the story and most of the time I did like her. Sam on the other hand really got on my nerves. He has an excuse for being mistrustful but he makes some really dumb mistakes and hurts his friends in the process. Griffin is a good hero but he lacks the charisma that his foil Jack Dandy has in spades. Jack Dandy reminded me of what Jack Sparrow would have been like if he was the educated but illegitimate son of a gentleman. He is a criminal with a heart of gold.  Jack certainly brought some fun to the story and I can see why a part of Finley was drawn to him. Sadly this does lead to a slight love triangle but to me it is clear which person she will choose in the end. The other main character is the villain, The Machinist, and I thought this character was suitably slightly mad but not as intelligent as someone like Moriarty or as frightening as Lord Voldemort.

Steampunk novels usually incorporate technology into the story and here there are unusual gadgets such as velocycles, automatons, and the Aether engine. There are also the Organites, life-giving creatures found in the Cradle of Life that promote healing and give off energy. I've only read a few steampunk books but they also did not go in-depth into the workings of the technology. Instead the gadgets were used as plot devices but I didn't mind that very much. I thought the Organites were interesting and I look forward to learning more about them in the next book.

The Girl in the Steel Corset is a decent first effort though some of the characters could be annoying. I do think that the characters will improve as the series goes on and there were signs of this by the end of the first book. If you like light steampunk (it is more of a Victorian mystery with steampunk elements) then you might enjoy The Girl in the Steel Corset.

Readalikes: The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (writing style is different but similar feel with the gadgets and "Dust"),  Fire by Kristin Cashore (Fire's struggle with the monster aspect of her personality reminds me of Finley's similar problems)


  1. Sounds like it's not perfect, but I still really want to read it just b/c it's steampunk YA!

  2. I read this one and while I liked it, I didn't love it. I agree with you on the characters. My review should be up soon. GREAT review.

  3. Ugh-I loathed Sam! However I did like Griffin even if he is a bit boring; I knew that some readers would like Jack Dandy more though because he has a lot of charisma.

    But I am excited about the possibilities of this series and I definitely want to read the sequel.


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