Book Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

 Finley Jayne has never been the typical Victorian maiden. One night when her employer gets fresh, she fights back and escapes. She runs into Griff, a lord with a mission, who takes her to his house, a refuge for people who, like her, are a little different. But there are games afoot. The Machinist is committing an unusual series of crimes and if Finley, Griff, and company must stop him to save humanity-even if it means enlisting Jack Dandy, the lord of the London underworld.

The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1) by Kady Cross takes us on a wild romp through an alternate version of Victorian London. There are androids, the aethernet, rogues, cowboys, formidable ladies, conspiracies, gadgets, and unusual microorganisms. Shades of the Jekyll and Hyde mythos tinge Finley Jayne’s past. The characters come alive, each with unusual abilities, their own motives, and original backstory, including a female inventor who makes all of their weapons and gadgets. The world is as rich as one of Jules Verne’s voyages extraordinaires. There’s plenty of action, intrigue, and just a touch of romance.

Really, there’s something in this incredible Steampunk story for everyone. Kady Cross does an excellent job of encompassing all the elements of a Steampunk novel but seamlessly blending them into her world, making the story interesting to fans of the genre but still very accessible to those who still aren’t sure what a “Steampunk” is.

This book is sold as a young adult novel, but has a very wide crossover appeal-even to those who haven’t read YA since they were YAs. Don’t let the YA label fool you, either–today’s YA is smart, savvy, and isn’t afraid to tackle, well, anything. There are no high schools, dances, or vampires in this YA either (not that there’s anything wrong with those, but you won’t find them in this book). The microorganisms and the tech in this story are amazing and the story itself is very compelling, never lagging for a moment.

I see The Girl in the Steel Corset serving as a gateway drug, both to the world of Steampunk and the world of YA. Don’t shy away from a good story simply because of what section it’s shelved in. Plenty of smart, educated men and women enjoy reading YA. The Girl in the Steel Corset is a fantastic read (as are many YAs; you might be surprised at the incredible storytelling housed in the “teen” section). Read it with pride; maybe even read it with your favorite teen. The girls in this story are very strong, kicking butt and inventing things even better than the boys. Even Griff’s lady aunt isn’t some shrinking violet.  (There’s not much in it that I would think objectionable, there’s not even a kiss, but I’d still recommend it for high schoolers, or at least read it first before passing it on to a younger reader.)

I still can’t get over how inventive the tech and gadgets are in this story. Perhaps it will inspire you to invent your own Steampunky gadgets. Personally, I wouldn’t mind a house robot to do my dishes…and put away my laundry.

Harlequin Teen was nice enough to furnish me with an advanced copy of this book, which I am going to give away to one of you. The book comes out later this month. To win, all you have to do is comment in the comment box below. Contest is open internationally. Contest closes May 31, 11:59 PM PST. Winner will be contacted by email.

So, what sort of gadget, practical or impractical, would you like to invent?

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