The Girl in the Steel Corset (The Steampunk Chronicles #1)

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The Girl in the Steel Corset (The Steampunk Chronicles #1)
Author(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
May 24, 2011
ISBN
978-0373210336
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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.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Awesome kick start to a series!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
First let me just say that I have a read a couple of Steampunk novels and I did not get the genre, but holy cow now I do. I adored this book by Kady Cross. Here's why; the book had me from the first page. Finley (our main character) comes face to face with the son of her employer, and as he is trying to take advantage of her, she fights back. I mean, FIGHTS back. There is something dark within her that takes over and she almost kills him. She runs away from the scene and is hit by the mysterious Griffin King and his friend Sam Morgan. After taking Finley back to Griffin's house to help her heal, they all discover something about each other, they all have mysterious powers. I don't want to give too much away, but this book has it all!

The characters are very unique and I could not get enough of them. Finley is such a strong female lead. I love that she takes charge and isn't a damsel in distress. Griffin is honorable, smart, a gentleman, and has a dark side of his own. Sam is head strong, loyal, protective, and has a soft side as well. Emily is highly intelligent, noble, and tough. Jack Dandy is mysterious, dangerous, and intriguing.

I absolutely love the 1800's. There is something about that time period that is just so enticing. The romance really gets to me. I love how a simple look can be scandalous and how the men ask permission to kiss the lady. This book is filled with romance, but only the kind I mentioned above. Add awesome robots and even the Queen of England on top of that and you have one amazing novel.

If you love Steampunk and are looking for a new series, this is it! Hurry out and get it today, I don't think you'll be disappointed. I am on the edge of my seat for the second book of the series, hurry Kady Cross, hurry!
Good Points
The girls in the book are strong, smart and funny.
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Overall rating 
 
4.1
Plot 
 
4.0  (8)
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4.5  (8)
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Review: The Girl In the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
The Girl in the Steel Corset is a wonderful book, in summary.

The plot is quite interesting, with nothing more to be said. The ending isn't too amazing or too surprising. She fights, she wins. The usual stuff in a 'Happy Ever After' book. No major cliffhanger or anything! However, the dialects are wonderful! I love how Kady Cross brings you back in time to experience the eighteen hundreds. You figuratively 'time travel' back to the past.

Finley, the main character. Naturally suspicious of everything, she's no match for the dashing, manipulative Griffin King, who can manipulate minds and feelings. (King manipulates Finley to trust him). Finley is caught up with a plot. Queen Victoria is going to be replaced by an automaton, Queen Victoria look-like. The mastermind behind the plot is watching every move Finley makes. How will she ever save Queen Victoria and her new friends, even if they don't trust her?

Griffin King, an orphaned duke, is handsome and quite attracted to Finley Jayne. He's busy trying to solve his internal battles and later external. With dreamy looks and his parent's death haunting his mind, he's the Batman of the eighteen hundreds. With the gadgets. Alas, no cape, no fancy suit, no mask, no secret identity. And the Machinist, the evil and nutty mastermind and the Joker of the age, is watching his every move.

Jack Dandy, the bad boy of the block. He's the one who grandmothers and mothers tell you to stay far, far, far away from. With a charming personality and ladies man suave, Jack Dandy will have all the female readers swooning with delight. And the Machinist is watching his every move. (Gasp!)

The villain, Machinist, is clever. He is a true Joker and madman of the Victorian Era. He's a clever man who doesn't play by the rules. He's hidden and hidden well. He's mysterious. He's the Machinist.

Rating: Four out of five

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Definitely a must-read
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
If you are a person who is a fan of automatons, completely crazy madmen, Victorians, and handsome nobles vs. ruggedly handsome villain, then you have GOT to read the Girl in the Steel Corset.

Finley Jane is a commoner. I wouldn't say she's normal though. She has a "split personality". Normally she is timid, kind and peaceful. And sometimes, she is not. She will change completely when threatened, revealing a darker, rage-filled nature and weird abilities like super-strength and hearing and things like that. Some people might even call her a "monster".

Her job at the start of the book is being a maid to a family of nobles with a not-nice son. After she is assaulted by him, she changes into her darker personality and flings him across the room with enough force to crack the plaster, after which she promptly runs out of the house and gets hit by a duke, Griffin King, on a motorcycle. Being the perfect gentleman and having a "feeling" about her, he takes her home. There, Finley meets Emily, the resident genius, Sam, a huge man with super-strength and a troubled mind, and Jasper, an American guy who can move very fast. VERY fast.

While living in Griffin's house, Finley starts to realise that none of them are normal, and that is okay. She starts to accept who she is, and what she is capable of. And mix that all up with another love interest, a dashing villain, andyou've got the perfect mixture.

I loved Finley as a heroine. Instead of being set on the good side, she sometimes has a taste herself of what it is like to be violent and pretty much evil. And then when she finally gets a grip, she doesn't lose track of who she was at the start of the book, either.

The pacing of this book was great too. It didn't reveal everything too quickly, or go so fast that I couldn't follow, but neither was it so slow that I was thinking about other things. Plus all the different points of view were in strategic spots, not in random places just so that it made the writing easier for the author. We got to be in everyone's minds and get a good view of how they feel and see the world.

One thing that bothered me a bit was that it just didn't seem all that plausible that there could be so many modern kinds of things in the 1800's. Emily was a teenage genius, but the number of things she invented and how similar it was to today's things just didn't seem very plausible.

I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of steampunk (even if you're not, still give this book a try, you might be surprised!). It is awesome!!

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Murderous robot rampage
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
The Girl In the Steel Corset is jammed packed with the usual Victorians, evil madmen gone completely crazy, and your ever handsome nobles and crooked villains who capture your heart. But this book had a different side, with killer robots, speedy motorcycles, super medicines that repair your skin, and a heroine with a dark side and a punch of steel. This is not your normal Victorian mystery book...

The star of this book, Finley Jayne, is a young 'common' class lady with a split personality similar to that of Jekyll and Hyde. She is normally a kind, gentle woman who has a sweet nature, but when threatened she while lash out and become someone completely different, what some people might call a 'monster'.

I reckon this a totally brilliant, as usually the hero or heroine of the book is a perfect role model with their heart set on the 'good' side. But Finley is completely the opposite to these people, as when she is in one of her 'darker' moods, she is a violent creature who can injury someone pretty badly. And when finally she gets a grip on her sides, she makes herself come out ever better than before.

This book is similar to Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, as they both have themes of our history, but with added parts layered on top. It is a like a parallel universe, with the technology furthered advanced, and discoveries that could change the entire world as we know it.

This book has a scientific idea to it, as well as this magical place called the Aether. I think the scientific part of this book make all the characters abilities very plausible. The magical section of this story makes the plot go even further, and makes this book a whole lot more fun and creative.

If your the person who loves all these things and more, than this amazing steampunk novel is way worth to read, it is simply awesome!!!
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Loved It, But...
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
If you’re looking for murderous automatons, steam-run motorcycles, chivalrous dukes, fiery absinthe and other bits of steampunkery goodness, then you need to go read 'The Girl in the Steel Corset'!

Finley Jayne is a young lady with something of a Jekyll and Hyde complex. Her personality is split in half, and while her sweeter, gentler side is usually in control, she can become a dangerous, rage-filled "monster" whenever she’s threatened, frightened or angered. Which, she finds out, isn't totally a bad thing. After being accosted by her employer’s drunk, foppish son, she gives the guy a good thrashing, runs away and then promptly gets hit by a duke on a steampunk-style motorcycle, Griffin King. Being a gentleman and intrigued by this strange girl who can survive getting hit by a motorcycle (velocycle), Griffin takes her home. There Finley meets Emily, a tiny genius inventor/medic/researcher, and Sam, a very grumpy giant of a guy who was turned into a cyborg after a near death experience because his friends couldn’t bear to let him die.

Griffin’s new house guest is not the duke's only issue; there’s also a villain loose in London who is using robots to do his dirty work, like stealing wax figurines and hair brushes as well as more deviant acts of crime. Meanwhile, Finley discovers that Griffin’s friends are not exactly normal, and neither is he. As she settles into the household, Finley starts to accept who she is and what she is capable of. Throw in a dashing, dangerous villain type as a second love interest, a thirst for revenge, an American "cowboy", a masquerade, and a mechani-cat, and you’ve got a fun, X-men-esque romp through steampunk!London.

The pacing of this book seems to quite good; the story moves along at a nice clip but nothing is revealed too quickly. Cross switches points of view between multiple characters, which gives the reader a good view into how each character thinks and feels. The powers that Cross chose to give her array of steampunk superhero folks make sense for each character.

While overall, I love this novel and will sing its frolicking AU-Victorian praises, there are a few little issues that rubbed me the wrong way. It seems highly implausible, impossible even, that Emily could create so many high-tech, 21st-century-type machines in a steam-and-clockwork world. The girl makes the steampunk equivalent of everything from motorcycles to flashlights to cellphones/pagers. Albeit, she’s a teenage genius, and she acquires an ability that could help her in the creation of all this tech, but the sheer number of inventions and their relation to modern day machines went beyond the believable. The plot is also a little predictable, but it’s still a very good read. Light and fun but with some meat to it! I think it’s a great read for late middle school through high school students, but adults could definitely enjoy it as well.
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Fun story and characters, but just felt like it tried too hard to do too much
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Before I get into the actual review, can I mention real quick how much I love and hate this cover? Love because it’s gorgeous.

Hate because the girl on the cover doesn’t at all resemble the actual main character of the book, who she’s supposed to represent. Come on, cover people. How hard is it to hire a blonde girl with dark streaks in her hair to portray a blonde girl with dark streaks in her hair? I’m pretty sure even some decent photoshopping skills could have fixed this.

Also, the dress is the wrong color.

Anyway. Cover rant over.

The Plot

The Girl in the Steel Corset opens as Finley Jayne, a serving girl in the house of the scoundrel Lord Felix, escapes an assault from her employer, runs into the park, and is promptly nearly run over by two men on “velocycles,” which are basically steampunked-up motorcycles.

The man who hit her is Griffin King, a duke and one of the most powerful men in London. He takes her back to his house where he and his group of oddly talented misfit friends reside. As Finley slowly assimilates into their group and begins to trust them, she also battles to control the two halves of her personality warring inside her: the sweet and demure serving girl, and the wild and violent “other” side.

Her two personalities frighten and mystify her, but strangely enough, Griffin may be the one to provide answers.

Meanwhile, Griffin & Co. are hot on the trail of The Machinist, a mysterious criminal on a bizarre crime spree in London. Finley, in an effort to uncover the truth, tries to help by joining forces with the dastardly Jack Dandy, lord of the seedy underbelly of London.

My Thoughts

[Warning: there is a minor Buffy spoiler below. Yes, I said Buffy. It's relevant. I promise.]

As you can probably tell from my plot summary, there’s a lot going on in this book. Maybe too much. We have the plot of Finley’s dual personalities, the overarching mystery of The Machinist, the weird love triangle between Finley, Jack Dandy, and Griffin, another love triangle between Griffin’s other three housemates, a murder mystery, some supernatural craziness, and — oh yes — another murder mystery.

It’s a lot to fit into one book. I was able to keep up with it, but it felt kind of cluttered to me.

I liked the characters. Griffin in particular was very appealing to me. The other housemates – Emily, Sam and Jasper – were also fun, and each certainly had their own distinctive voice and personality. No character was perfect, but their motivations were all (mostly) understandable.

Finley was a bit harder to relate to, because of her two “selves” battling for dominance à la Jekyll and Hyde. Jack Dandy was the hardest for me to grasp, partially because while he was supposed to be a criminal mastermind, he never came across as particularly dangerous. And also, the description of him as young, dashing, roguish, and educated with a thick Cockney accent never really gelled for me.

My biggest issue with the writing was there was quite a lot of telling instead of showing. I didn’t feel like I was experiencing events with the characters; instead, it felt like I was being filled in on what happened and told how to react after the fact. The attempt at world-building also felt a bit forced: lots of time is spent on describing exactly what everyone is wearing, and all the various technologies present in each scene, but rarely do the descriptions actually serve the plot. It’s funny, although I absolutely love the imagery of steampunk, I wasn’t a big fan of how it felt a little bit shoehorned into the story. It felt like a lot of scenes were trying to scream, “Remember! This story is STEAMPUNK! Don’t forget the STEAMPUNK!“ And I’d rather it just was steampunk. If that makes any sense.

There were also several occasions when there was a bit of a disconnect between the characters’ actions and what they were supposedly feeling. One scene that comes to mind is when Finley and Sam wind up fighting for their lives. They are both described as being terrified, yet outwardly, they are exchanging witty banter. I know that outward expressions of bravado can be a defense mechanism, but it didn’t ring true for me.

The story itself was interesting, but I felt it could have been pared down significantly to help with the flow. I think one of the murder mysteries could have been cut out entirely without hurting the story. The Machinist plot was fine (although I totally guessed the Machinist’s endgame very early in the game, and it’s actually extremely reminiscent of a certain ’80s Disney animated movie that my kids have forced me to watch about 100 times). I do wish the culmination of that particular storyline had been a bit more…challenging.

You know how in Buffy, there’s that one episode where Buffy fights the über-vamp in the gladiatorial-type setting, and it nearly kills her and is like the hardest thing ever, then by the finale she’s somehow dusting them left and right without breaking much of a sweat? Well, it’s kind of like that. But I forgave the writers of Buffy for that little discrepancy, so I can forgive Kady Cross for essentially doing the same thing.

However, although I obviously had several points of contention with this book, I still ultimately enjoyed it. The story is interesting (if not entirely unique – there are elements of Sherlock Holmes, Jekyll and Hyde, and the aforementioned Disney movie sprinkled in all throughout) and the world intriguing. The characters are fun and distinctive, and while I don’t think the book was entirely cohesive, it worked well enough to keep my attention.

And as for the ending, most of the main plot points are tied up neatly by the end of Girl in the Steel Corset. The last few pages introduce a new conflict, which is the setup for the sequel, but I still felt ultimately satisfied by the conclusion of this book. Endings for series books are always tricky. It’s easy to feel frustrated if not many questions are answered, or too satisfied if there aren’t enough loose ends (thus making you lose interest in the next book). I think this book handled that balance nicely.

Overall, I thought this was an enjoyable inaugural excursion into the world of steampunk fiction, and I’m looking forward to revisiting this world (hopefully with a more streamlined plot) in the sequel.
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Tired of vampires and werewolves? Try bloodthirsty robots
(Updated: June 23, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Previously published on my blog: http://fictionfervor.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/review-the-girl-in-the-steel-corset-by-kady-cross/

I admit, when I first read that synopsis, I was scared. I was scared of just another fake novel that had the same plot and same characters and same everything (which just so happens to be like an outline for paranormal romances today). But then, what I got in return exceeded my expectations by far.

The Girl in the Steel Corset is a completely original novel with completely original characters and completely original plot and completely original romance. It’s so completely original that I adored the complete thing so completely.

First of all, our protagonist, Finley? Yeah, even though she’s battling this dark side of her, she’s amazingly nice and sweet at times (unlike her dark side, who throws a full-grown man across the room). And I love her sense of humor (on both sides, good and bad). She’s kick-butt when she’s in full dark-mode. (That’s how she threw the full-grown man across the room.) All these aspects make me love her (both sides).

And the romance? Oh, I’m definitely on Team Griffin. No offense to Jack Dandy, but even though Jack is such a sweet (and dangerous!) guy, Griffin is even more so (on both counts, I’d say). Griffin is unbelievably sweet to Finley (first saving her and then taking her into his household) and dangerous in that he’s pretty determined in finding his parents’ murderer. Not to mention trying to stop this guy from creating robots that are murdering people across the country.

I loved this plot. It kept me on edge constantly, wondering what was going to happen next. And that cliffhanger ending is definitely going to make me yearn for its sequel.

Fast-paced and constantly on edge, The Girl in the Steel Corset is a must for any reader tired of vampires and werewolves. I mean, why not try bloodthirsty robots?

Source: ARC/galley received from publisher for review
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100 Word Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset
Overall rating 
 
2.3
Plot 
 
2.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
2.0
X-Men as sleuthing 1890s London teenagers. Split-personality Finely Jane plays the Wolverine role, with duke Griffin King substituting for Professor X. (Watch for Gambit, Emma Frost, Colossus, Forge, Quicksilver.)

Convenient modern tech, invented by one girl, was eye-roll worthy. Removing the steampunk veneer could strengthen the advanced technology.

Despite predictable plot twists seemingly ripped from 1990s cartoons—-Finley’s family secret; power origins; The Machinist’s Diamond Jubilee scheme-—the tropes are still fun.

(And Finley, dear? Bemoaning which dashing lad has you crushing harder—the gentleman or rogue—and if your wuv could ever be? Makes you vapid. Stick to ass-kicking.)


Age Range: Recommended for ages 13+, but your mileage may vary! Minimal swearing mostly of the Brit-kind, moderate violence, minimal alcohol use (please don’t light your absinthe’s sugar cubes on fire >.
Good Points
Easy, light read. Follows its tropes well. Possibly also bad point: X-Men inspiration is easy to spot (down to training room and "Cerebro" like machine.)
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Didn't Quite Do It
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
2.0
This book didn't ring my bells. The cover is AMAZING, and I had high hopes that I'd love what was between the cover as well. Let me say that even though it didn't work for me, I think there are many readers who will absolutely love it. The steampunk world-building is incredible. The plot has twists and turns. There's plenty of action. For me, it came down to the writing style. I found myself rolling my eyes wihtin the first few pages. So much was laboriously explained in paragraphs of exposition, characters' motivations didn't quite make sense to me, and there were multiple cliches (i.e. Depsite NO evidence that he's right and despite the fact that it made no sense at all, the hero "feels" like he must be connected to the heroine, even though she's unconscious and he's never seen her before, and therefore takes her with him instead of getting her medical help) that I recognize from adult paranormal romances, and I'm really not a fan of stuff that happens just to further the plot rather than for a solid, authentic reason.

Like I said, I couldn't get into the book because the writing style just didn't make it an enjoyable reading experience for me, but I think there are many out there who will enjoy the fabulous world building and plot.
Good Points
Amazing world-building, interesting premise
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