Friday, 22 April 2011

review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

by Kady Cross
Harlequin Teen, June 2011
young adult steampunk
e-galley received from NetGalley

There's another side to Finley Jayne -- the side that can fight like a grizzly bear, the side that welcomes danger and seeks out risk, the side that she can't seem to control or understand. The side that beats up Lord Felix when he attempts to rape her. Running from her job results in a literal collision with Lord Griffin, whose house is home to the strangest group of friends Finley's known. Before she knows it, she's a part of the group -- besides teaching her how to merge her two selves, they need her to help take down the force behind multiple automaton attacks, the deadly and mysterious Machinist.
The cover:

I adore it. The grey background helps to set off the gorgeous, luxurious red of the dress, and also hints at the "steel" in the title. The girl looks like she's ready to bounce off the wall and spring into action. And the extensions of some of the font's letters looks marvelous. Book designer(s), I applaud you!

The book:

The Girl in the Steel Corset opens at Lord Felix's advances and the tipping point of Finley's personality, and following her darker side's impressive defeat of Lord Felix, we can't help but admire her. Finley's sweet attitude when trying to make up for her other violent side makes her endearing, and the natural change in her character as her two personalities merge is developed fluidly. The short forays into the other characters' heads are less effective, but help to display the whole picture. Well-woven details of Victorian life contrast Finley's previous life, Griffin's wealthiness and the underground web of Jack Dandy.

All the special abilities the group of friends have seem reasonably possible, especially with the excellent explanation founded in Griffin's backstory. However, the "Aether" into which Griffin can see stretches the imagination. It's only in the second half of the novel when the automatons actually make an entrance, where they proceed to make the genre steampunk proud. (Read: scary, realistic and very, very mechanical.)

And look at these GORGEOUS chapter pages:

Rating: 4 out of 5