Friday, 15 March 2013

Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Published by: Mira Ink (Harlequin)
Release date: 24th May 2011
Series: The Steampunk Chronicles #1
I got it from: Library

" “What I want from you,” he said, and Finley braced herself, “is your trust. Irrevocable and unshakable. I want you to put your life in my hands, and I want to be able to do the same without hesitation.”
Disturbed to her very soul, Finley could only shake her head. “You ask too much.” Put his life in her hands? He was deranged! A bedlamite for certain. A crooked grin curved his mouth.
“Too much? You strange and wonderful girl, that is the least I’ll ask of you.” "

Goodreads summary:
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.

My review:
I do like a bit of steampunk. It's like the best of all worlds - romantically historical, interestingly fantastical and gorgeously gothic. Throw in an element of magic and the supernatural and you have a heady concoction that any YA fan should love.

Finley Jayne is a fun heroine - ballsy, wild and just a bit vulnerable, she's an easy character to love and follow. As are her supporting cast - Griffin King, the young duke with an easy smile but a dark side; Jack Dandy, cockney master of the underworld with a softer side; sweet little Emily, genius and friend; and surly Sam, the only one who can match Finley's strength.

Do you ever feel like you have a dark side? That part of you which prompts you to say the wrong thing, to do something wild? Imagine if that dark side had supernatural strength and senses, imagine if you were unable to keep it under control. Finley's dark side is fighting to take her over, and only Griffin can help her to tame it. But while there is an undeniable attraction between the low-born girl and the Duke, it is Jack Dandy who accepts Finley for who she is and appealing to her darker side.

There is romance in the book. In fact there are two love triangles - the brilliant Emily get her own pair of heroes vying for her attention. Interestingly though, the romance angle takes a bit of a back seat, leaving the mystery and adventure aspect to take the lead.

Cross's writing won't appeal to all - a lot of words are dedicated to describing the clothes and machines which make the steampunk setting. I don't mind that personally - unless you're really into steampunk, the descriptions are necessary to remind the reader that they are not in the normal world. With the Victorian setting it would be easy to forget the steampunk aspect if it wasn't highlighted throughout the book. Cross writes in the third person, but switches between various character's points of view. I found this style a little  unsettling - we are given glimpses of the main characters' personalities but we never get to really know them in depth. I think this is part of the reason for some of the fairly scathing reviews the book has received. Another small gripe I have is that the evil villain is made a bit to obvious - if you're expecting a twist you'll be a bit disappointed, as it's more of a case of banging you're head against a wall, shouting 'why are you talking to him? It's so obvious!'

Bad points aside, I'm glad I read the book and I definitely want to read the next one in the series. Just one more complaint though - the version I read included the prequel novella 'The Strange Case of Finley Jayne', but to be honest I kind-of wish it hadn't. I enjoyed reading the novella, but it didn't connect well with The Girl in the Steel Corset. A number of things just didn't gel between the end of The Strange Case and the beginning of Steel Corset. It just made the prequel seem unnecessary.

Please ignore all the bad reviews and give the book a chance. If you hate steampunk, maybe avoid it, but if you're even just a little bit interested go for it!

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