Finley Jane has a dark secret, one that she even tries to hide from herself. She is employed as a housemaid in a Victorian London home, but when the young lord attempts to force himself on her, Finley is only too glad to give herself over to the dark being that lurks within her. She might not be able to control it, but she can protect herself with the incredible strength it affords her. She flees after knocking out the young man in question, and when she is struck by Griffin King's speeding velocycle, her life swerves in a most interesting direction.
Finley is not inclined to trust people (afflicted as she is with her secret), and Griffin seems too good to be true. Can it be that he really wants her to join his group of most unusual friends? They are working for the crown in an attempt to locate the nefarious Machinist, whose automatons are wreaking havoc in London. There's the ingenious inventor, Emily, and Sam, who is part robot, and the polite but secretive Jasper, an American cowboy. Griffin himself seems to possess an unusual ability, but Finley isn't quite sure what it might be.
Action and adventure follow, involving diabolical automatons, plots against the crown, whimsical and clever inventions, and a certain mysterious substance from the center of the earth that may just have a mind of its own.
This was an entertaining steampunk romp with fun characters, gadgets and gizmos. The writing was occasionally a bit awkward, but it is the first of a series, and I did enjoy the interplay among the characters, as well as the homage to H.G. Wells and Robert Louis Stevenson. My main issue with the book was the predictability of the plot. Not only was the mystery glaringly obvious, but the plot was straight out of Disney's The Great Mouse Detective (minus the rodent characters), Victorian England setting, robots, evil scheme and all. That said, I enjoyed the book and do intend to pick up the next installment of The Steampunk Chronicles. This is a YA novel that will appeal to adult fans of Steampunk, and it's a great introduction to the genre for younger readers. It might even inspire them to pick up some Wells or Stevenson, and that is definitely a good thing.
The Girl in the Steel Corset (#1 in the Steampunk Chronicles series) by Kady Cross (Harlequin Teen, 2011)
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The Story Siren: "I'll admit that I had the bad guy pegged and his evil plan all figured
out, long before the intelligent characters in this novel did! But it
was still fun watching them putting all the pieces together themselves."
Tez Says: "Kady Cross writes automatons so well that I dip my dirigible captain’s hat to her."
YA Reads: "In addition to phenomenal character development, this book is packed with
action. There are multiple plot lines and conflicts existing at once,
thus there’s never a dull moment."