I hope everyone is having a fantastic Fourth of July!
I figured the best way to celebrate this holiday was to feed our bookish appetites with something delicious. No, it’s not potato salad or cheeseburgers (although, if you’re making those, please send them here 😀 ), it’s The Girl in the Steel Corset.
This novel is one of the best overall books that I’ve read so far this year.
Title & Author: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
Genre: YA- Steampunk
Release Date: June 1, 2011
Series: Book 1 in a planned series
How I Got the Book: e-ARC
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.”
We all wage internal struggles sometimes. We may want to act on an impulse, but something inside of us holds back. For Finley Jane, those two sides are split into different personalities that emerge when she’s under stress. Lately, her darker side has been taking over more and more.
After Finley assaults a duke who tried to attack her, she’s desperate to find a cure for her “curse,” which gave her the inhuman strength to fight her attacker. Worried someone will find out her secret, Finley Jane finds a savior in Griffin King. He welcomes her into his home and is hopeful he can help Finley with her dual personas. But, he has secrets of his own to reveal…
Excellent World-Building+ Fantasy Elements
After reading this book, I feel like I now understand what steampunk is all about.
In case anyone was wondering, our trusty web source Wikipedia defines the sub-genre this way:
Steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain—that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy.
You know that weird mash-up book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Well, steampunk is more like Pride and Prejudice and Robots. It sounds weird, but it’s really fantastic.
Cross does a wonderful job of describing the period dress, homes and social statuses of the characters. I loved reading about Finley’s steel corset (no misnomer here!) and the interesting steam technology of the time, including automatons (robots) and velocycles (motorcycles).
There’s also this great juxtaposition of Victorian-era society and propriety that’s coupled with the special abilities of the characters, which strips away social and economic statuses. Speaking of the “special abilities,” I think Cross created a great magic system that allows a lot of room for possibilities- especially in future novels.
Without giving too much away, Griffin and his friends’ magic (although it’s not called by that name in the book) stems from Organites- a “life-giving” material found at the earth’s core.
The Organites can heal serious injuries if applied to wounds and, as Griffin has found out, the little “beasties” can cause unforeseen side effects to those exposed to them for long periods of time. …Like Griffin, Emily and Sam.
I thought this was a really unique idea, and I think Cross gave enough details to pique my interest but not so many that it became overly technical or confusing.
Beautiful Writing & A Steamy Romance
There were so many things I loved about the writing in The Girl in the Steel Corset. Cross is a master of descriptions, for example:
If the city of London was a body, Whitechapel would be the groin; a great unwashed area that only showed itself under the cover of darkness, and only for the most salacious of entertainments. No one of ‘proper’ birth ever admitted to going there, but they all did at one time or another- or at least they wanted to. Slumming was very popular these days.
How’s that for a visual! 😉
On to romance- heck YES!! I dried out my contacts from the gale force winds created from turning pages so quickly! I don’t want to ruin anything for you, so please take my word that I am HUGE fan of the romance in this book. It teases, it taunts and it leaves you dying for more!
I’m in love with the characters, the setting and the all-around steampunk-ness of this book. It’s refreshing, fun and exciting. I could go on and on, so let me stop here and say that it was an extremely satisfying novel that left me wanting to re-read it right away! If you buy only one steampunk book this year, make it The Girl in the Steel Corset.
Extras: If you want to read more about Finley Jane, you can read the the prequel to The Girl in the Steel Corset– The Strange Case of Finley Jayne. It’s an ebook and is available at Amazon for $2.99!
Come back tomorrow to find out more about out more about the dueling personalities of Finley Jane and find out if you’re more like her mischievous or wholesome side.