My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Kady Cross’ book The Girl In the Steel Corset tells the story of Finley Jayne, a young woman living in Victorian England when technology is on the rise. Horses and carriages are being replaced by metal versions and slowly, old times are making way for the new. But Finley has more to think of than just the changing atmosphere around her. There is a pull inside her – a dark pull that is unlike herself and yet, somehow exactly like her. When she finds herself in trouble because of her ability to exert extreme amounts of strength, she ends up at the house of Griffin King, who has a group of people with him who might be able to enlighten Finley on who – or what – she is. And just in time, too. There is a mysterious man by the name of The Machinist wreaking havoc and his reasoning for doing so has everything to do with Finley’s strange condition.
I purchased this book off of the Book Depository a while ago after I’d been looking for more steampunk-related books to read. I’d come across this book before on Goodreads and I was really interested in reading it. I seem to have a fondness for steampunk, and will be reading a lot more of it in the future as this book did not disappoint. This book is extremely descriptive and quite lengthy because of it. The author took her time really creating a very diverse world with a somewhat complicated backstory for several things. Not just Finley’s condition is explained, but a lot of plot points are accurate explained through the use of flashbacks or previously mentioned characters, which I thought was very cool.
Finley as a main character was really awesome. Throughout the book she deals with some sort of split personality, which can pretty much be separated between good and bad Finley – everything bad Finley does is risky and she hardly ever remembers her actions but it is also the part of her that doesn’t back down from a fight and stands up for herself. Throughout the book she is thus at constant battle with herself and has to find a way to truly be herself. She goes through changes and adjustments with the people around her, while being distrusting of practically everybody. Fun!
Which brings me to the side characters – namely Griffin, Emily, Sam and Jasper. All of the characters were enjoyable to read about in my opinion. I especially had a soft spot for Sam from the very beginning, and I was happy to see that the book showed different situations through different POVs without it becoming a hindrance in the story. It’s a lot of fun to witness different moments in a story through different characters because they all experience it differently, which in my opinion made this story so much more diverse.
I have to dedicate an entire paragraph to Griffin because that’s how much I loved him as a main male character. From the get-go I was interested in who he was and I enjoyed reading about his family. His personality really fit with what I like to see in main male characters – he wasn’t overbearing or overly there, even though a big part of the story took place in his own house. Whenever Finley wanted to make a decision on her own and he did not agree with it, he would still let her go and voice his reasons for being against it, making her see both sides of a situation. This allowed her to grow herself and make choices based on what was happening around her and in response to her own feelings – whether it was from good Finley or bad Finley. He acted the same for his friends – he let them make their own decisions and was more of a helpful voice in the background in case they needed the guidance. He was lovely.
Emily, Sam and Jasper were really nice side characters. I have to say Emily is probably my favourite of the three, simply because of her attitude throughout the story, the way she was written in general and simply because I thought she had the funniest dialogue. Some of the things she said I wish I could say in real life, simply because they sounded funny. Jasper was alright with me as well, though he stood out less to me, but maybe that’s different in the sequels.
The only thing that was a bit of a let-down for me while reading this was the fact that I pretty much figured out who the bad guy was around the 60-70% mark, which I suppose is the right time for a villain to first really start to become a suspect, but I would’ve loved a plot twist at the end. Aside from that, at some point I felt like Jack Dandy only existed to make Griffin look better, which was a shame because I would’ve loved me so more Dandy (haha!). The final confrontation seemed to go by very quickly as well — but that might’ve just been me. These things together were enough for me to reduce one star off the final rating, but all in all this was a really, really enjoyable read.
I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on the sequels, though I’m really not sure how quickly I’ll be able to, but I will definitely be reading all of them – hopefully in the very near future. 4 out of 5 stars for The Girl In the Steel Corset by Kady Cross – as Jack Dandy would put it: for lovers of steampunk, this one’s a treasure.