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.
This book had a bonus story called 'The Strange Case of Finley Jayne', which was originally published as an e-short story, at the FRONT of the main novel. Which was a good thing, because it introduces us to Finley, the main character, and how unusual she is. It also introduces us to the unreal, steampunk world of 1897 Victorian England. Also add the twist of a Frankenstein-ian horror - and that's a lot to pack into a short story!
The main story begins right where the short one leaves off. We are re-acquainted with our heroine, Finley, and the steampunk is kicked up a notch. It's a world where many of our modern conveniences exist in the form of clockwork inventions. Very soon we meet Griff and his motley crew of associates, who are each unique in their own way. Together, they try to solve the mystery of why the city's automatons seem to be turning on humans, and seem to be developing artificial intelligence. Could it be the mysterious and infamous Machinist behind it all?
I was totally drawn into this world created by Kady Cross. So much so that I had to keep reminding myself that NO, Victorian times did not have velocycles (ie motorcycles), or computers, or earpieces! In this story, it seemed to fit!! I was inspired by all the devices I read about to help create my own steampunk outfit (which shall remain a work-in-progress) At the the same time YES, Victorian England did have different classes, and mixing was frowned upon by a society that had nothing better to do than gossip incessantly. We see that kind of interaction between many of the characters in this book, most especially our Finley.
If there was one disappointment with the story, it would have to be with the actual 'steel corset' and the costume on the cover. While there was a couple of scenes where the corset was actually mentioned (and very well described once) It really doesn't play too much of a role in the story! And although Finley does get a chance to wear such a fancy dress, it's certainly not described as a red dress..... which made me sad.... I think the dress on the cover was changed only for the reason that red is a more eye-catching color....
I don't think that this issue will be a problem, however, for Book #2 'The Girl In The Clockwork Collar'. Just reading the jacket cover, it seems that said 'clockwork collar' will indeed be a main part of the story... So I look forward to reading it as well...
I've read a few different kinds of stories that are labeled 'steampunk', most of which could barely be called that, only because there are a few devices but the actual story doesn't revolve around it. This story, however, you are fully immersed in it. There is no doubt that this is a steampunk story. It makes me wonder: What is steampunk to you? Is it flying machines, and strange devices that look vaguely familiar to our own time's technology? Is it Victorian-esque? Is it just the addition of a few unusual pieces that maybe 'could've' existed in that time? Is it more modern than that? For me, when I think of Steampunk, The Girl In The Steel Corset is exactly the sort of world I imagine.