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Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross is the first book in the Steampunk Chronicles and was released in the U.S. on May 24, 2011 in hardcover format.

It is currently available to order online in hardcover format at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and will be available as an eBook download at both stores on June 1, 2011.

Published by Harlequin TEEN, the print edition is 480 pages.

The Girl in the Steel Corset is one of the books that can be chosen for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi at TheStorySiren.com. (Although this book is not on the list at TheStorySiren, this is the young adult debut for author Kady Cross.)

Goodreads description:

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.

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A man, known only as The Machinist, has been committing a slew of rather unusual crimes around the city of London, and Griffin King, the Duke of Greythorne, is determined to discover his identity and unveil the plot behind this man’s actions before these plans can come to fruition.

As he and his friends, Sam and Emily, work to solve the puzzle, Finley Jayne, a girl with a bit of a dark side, comes crashing into their lives and finds herself quickly entwined in this mystery.

When Griffin first lays eyes on Finley he knows that she is something different, something special, and he is intent on finding out what it is that sets her apart. But not everyone is as ready to accept Finley into the group, and her presence begins to drive a wedge into an already tenuous friendship.

It will take everyone’s trust in order for them to work together to defeat this madman. But Finley isn’t the only one who lives with darkness, and the secrets they are keeping from one another may just cost them everything.

When the pieces slowly begin to come together about The Machinist’s intentions, and the part each of them play in this man’s madness, will they have enough time to stop him before it’s too late? Or will the dissension amongst them allow The Machinist’s plans to succeed?

***

The Girl in the Steel Corset is an elegantly written and entrancing mystery set in Victorian London in a world that incorporates futuristic technological inventions and scientific advancements into everyday life. The story has a wonderful flow and a dialogue that works in harmony with the characters and the era.

The story is told from the different characters’ perspectives, giving readers a broader look at their actions and motivations, which serves to both cast suspicion and to help unravel this mystery. Each character has a very distinct personality and brings something different to this story, with a role to play that is absolutely necessary to the plot.

In The Girl in the Steel Corset, the author incorporates the steampunk aspect seamlessly. The terminology she has created for the various devices that the characters use fits perfectly into the Victorian Age even if the gadgets themselves are not the norm.

Author Kady Cross has created a story in this sub-genre that is immensely entertaining, with beautifully written passages and dialogue, and characters that are utterly intriguing. Finley Jayne is a tough but likable heroine with two very different personalities, both sides of which are appealing in their own way not only to the reader, but to Griffin and Jack, as well.

The young Duke, Griffin King, has the strength and nobility of a leader, but does not come across as overly pompous or entitled, and his mysterious abilities add to his magnetism. And Jack Dandy, with his roguish charm, and the current of danger and unpredictability that runs just under the surface, makes him the ideal competition for Finley’s affections.

The secondary characters of Emily, Sam and Jasper all enhance this story’s already richly developed world. And the incredibly creative, but slightly creepy, scientific discoveries and futuristic inventions really make this story stand out.

The Girl in the Steel Corset is an exciting new series to watch for, and one that will appeal not only to fans of steampunk, but readers who enjoy characters with enhanced abilities, a female main character with a feisty personality and the strength to back it up, a story that has action and mystery and some seriously creepy inventions, and not just one, but two love triangles.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=5]

On a personal note:

I had such a great time reading this book. I was completely swept up in the story and was transported to 1897 London with a twist. I’m definitely glad that I read the novella first, though, as I already felt like I knew who Finley was and what I could expect from a steampunk novel.

Although I had read Clockwork Angel, it didn’t have nearly the level of gadgets, gizmos and automatons that were abundant in The Girl in the Steel Corset. It took me a little while to get used to these modern inventions existing in Victorian London, but they really did make that era much more interesting to me.

For a story that was nearly five hundred pages, this story just flew by. I loved how the author described the manner of dress in such detail. It gave me a much clearer picture of the styles in favor at that time, and in this sub-genre, and provided quite the interesting contrast to the technological advances.

Finley was definitely my favorite character, but I loved her from The Strange Case of Finley Jayne already. But, I have to say, I completely adore that Jack Dandy. As much as I love Griff, there’s still just something so appealing about that bad boy Jack, who just seems to know Finley so well and is willing to stand aside for the Duke, but not too far off to the side.

Yes, there was a mystery involving the identity of The Machinst and his motives, and yes I figured out who it was instantly and the motives very shortly thereafter. But that didn’t take anything away from the story. I still was dying for the characters to come to the realization and to see how they planned on thwarting his evil plans.

This was the perfect introduction to the world of steampunk for me. It is really such an unusual concept to wrap the mind around. And it is not easy to make it seem plausible for these inventions to have existed so long ago, but this story did a spectacular job in making it feel as real a world as possible.

I cannot wait to find out what happens in the next book in the Steampunk Chronicles. I certainly hope there is a whole lot more Jack Dandy to keep that tension in the love triangle between Jack, Griffin and Finley going.

And, I so wish I could talk about what I am excited for in the next book, but I can’t do that without spoiling the end of the story. But I will just say that there appears to be another mystery and a whole lot more adventures to look forward to in book two.

A quick note about the cover: The cover is absolutely stunning. I love it, but I’m not sure how representative certain aspects of the cover model are to Finley.

***

To read an excerpt from the author’s website, CLICK HERE.

Book trailer for The Girl in the Steel Corset:

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This review is based on both an eARC received from Harlequin TEEN and NetGalley and a printed ARC received through a trade.

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