“Don’t mistake me, Treasure. I can offer you many things, but friendship ain’t one of them. Now, for once in your life, be a sensible girl and run away.”
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.
I read this book prior to its prequel novella, The Strange Case of Finley Jane. If I haven’t read the prequel before writing this review things might go in a different direction. The prequel novella doesn’t offer a direct connection to this book but it helps me care more about the main character. I initially dislike Finely Jane in this book, she is too annoying sometimes but after reading the prequel novella I become more attached to her character. She is still not my favorite but I find her split personality interesting. I also like the backdrop of how she become what she is and how her father been part of it.
The other misfits cast of characters were also endearing. Each of them is crafted with their own abilities, personalities and history. Griffin King ability to enter and manipulate the aether realm is fascinating. Actually the idea of aether alone is intriguing. I found it little off to be included in a here as it looks more sci-fi for me but nevertheless interesting. Emily’s talent with machines makes her a mechanical genius. She is the mastermind behind all the inventions of the group. Jasper and Sam also got talents of their own and aside from their special abilities these characters have their own inner demons and secrets to battle.
I love the atmosphere of Victorian London with its vicious automatons. It is easy to be lost with this alternative history with a take of Jekyll and Hyde. The technology and inventions brought into this world were fascinating. The aether, automatons, velocycles, cogs and gears combined with amazing abilities and magical organisms make this steampunk great. I also loved the use of organites. It is perfectly used as a plot device and I hope it would be developed more in the next books.
While I enjoy the novel as a whole I also found it a little predictable. The Machinist’s identity and plans is easy to guess which kind of took a bit of the anticipation and excitement out of the novel. I expected at least one of them could unravel it before it become too obvious, afterall there is a brainy Emily with them and a sensible Griffin King.
The Girl in the Steel Corset is a fun book to read. Despite being predictable I enjoy the old world that Kady Cross built with this one. It’s a fun ride of adventure visiting the old England world with steampunk twist.