Book Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

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 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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65 thoughts on “Book Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

  1. I want it! It sounds cool and I’m always on the lookout for strong female characters. Mix Steampunk w/ strong female characters and I may just be in heaven!

    I think I would love to build some kind of fun steampunk vehicle that could get me to work, even in the bad weather, that of course uses steam power or some other clean fuel. Anyone have one of those?

  2. I was all ready to add it to the top of my list of “to read” library books and saw it wasn’t out til next month. I guess it will just move farther down for now!

    I would love to build an outfit that would carry all of the stuff I need everyday…like a purse but so much cooler… and have a third hand just like I need most days!

  3. Argh! It’s Harlequin, which means there’s likely to be romance in there…I’m interested in reading the book, but I’m on the lookout for more steampunk for my 10 yo son as well.

    1. Allison, the romance is very sweet — there’s not even a kiss. Also, two of the POVs are guys, but you still may want to read it first, since they’re all older teens in the book. A great Steampunk book for boys that age is the “Hunchback Assignments” series. The Clockwork Chronicles series is also good, but it helps if they’ve read the other “Grey Griffin” books first. Happy Reading!

      1. Thanks for the suggestions! He’l be very excited to dig in.

        I’ll definitely have to read this one first, although my experience is that if it’s risque he tends to turn it over to me and say “I don’t think this is appropriate reading material…” The kid can read darn near anything, but as I’m not terribly familiar with the genre I have a hard time knowing what is and isn’t going to be kid-safe/not icky to him at times. Given the publisher and the book cover, he’s going to want reassurances before he’s willing to start it.

  4. Woo! I have 2 teen readers in the house. One likes steampunk, one likes romance. I wonder if they would both enjoy this?

    Two inventions top my wishlist:

    1) A teleporter or other means of traveling without a car and without collisions and consumption of fossil fuels.

    2) Bouncy leg extensions that would allow one to run down the street like they’re in a bouncy castle.

  5. Hi Suzanne
    Wow, this sounds intriguing and I totally agree that many books shelved in YA have crossover appeal. Victorian times are fun, because almost all vices were forbidden, so any venture into the dark side is all the more impish.
    Gee, what device would I invent…
    Some sort of relatively harmless steampunk stun gun, that would force someone to stop running off at the mouth!

  6. I shall invent a flying machine that folds out from the pages of a book. (Actually I sort of already did in my serial novel. It’s called the ‘Emergency Library Escape Device’, and Our Hero discovers that there are circumstances–rare as they may be–in which one might want to escape from a library).

  7. sounds fabulous!
    What would I invent? I think I’ve been fascinated by clockwork pets since I watched the original Battlestar Galactica as a kid. ANyone else remember the daggit?

  8. Hey Suzanne. I didn’t realize you were Kady Cross. I just read the prequeal, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne, yesterday and I was already to hit this and I will as soon as it comes out.
    Allison, the prequel has no romance in it at all, but is a great introduction to Finley.
    I loved it and will definately put it on my favorite pile. Thanks Suzanne.

  9. A very nice review. I haven’t heard of this book, but like the sounds of it. Would enjoy reading it because YA novels are my favorites.

    1. I’m inventing a a swiffer that has internet capability. Called the ‘Twiffer’ I won’t miss a single tweet as I hunt down dust bunnies.

  10. Ohhh, I’d love to have a copy of this book!

    I think the gadget I’d love to invent is one that allows you to wake up in the morning and be all ready to go out into the world. No showers, hairdryers, shaving legs, etc. My youngest daughter (9) and I lament all the time about the fact that it takes so long to get around every morning.

  11. At the moment I wish i could build a teleporter able to take me back and forth (load & unload books) from BEA…. I’m dying to go, but can’t this year. Plus a teleporter would be easy on the bank account.

    Thank you so much for hosting this giveaway!!
    Bayayrea_munkie @ hotmail [dot] com

  12. I’ve read The Strange Case of Finley Jane a few days ago and I was really impressed with it, which of course got me all excited for The Girl In The Steel Corset. I haven’t read much books in the Steampunk genre but I’d love to give this book a try!

  13. I’ve been on the search for more steampunk! This sounds like a fantastic book, I can’t wait until it comes out!

  14. I’d want to invent an expandable bookshelf, so that way I wouldn’t have to keep buying more when I run out of room.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  15. What would I invent? Is it possible that I could invent something to feed my cats for me in the morning, toss toys for them to get all of their energy out, and then would also open the door so they could some snuggle with me when they’re sleepy and sane.

    Is that too much to ask? 😉

  16. Please enter me! Please, please, please!!! I’ve wanted to read this since I saw it in Steampunkapolooza!

  17. Aethernet? Is that like their version of the internet? I like that there is multiple POVs(but not too many). So often a lot of the new fiction(Urban Fantasy) has only one(first person). Gadgets: It would be nice if we didn’t have to carry around actual physical communication devices(phones/computers/etc), if they were all virtual/holographic/voice activated…

  18. I have never read any streampunk before but this is now on my list. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

  19. Would love to read it! I do need to get over my YA fears/doubts. “The Host” was actually an impressive novel.

  20. Would love to read this! Great write up, Suzanne! Looking forward to meeting Jayne and Jack Dandy (hilarious name) and particularly intrigued by “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.” This I have to read!

    I’d invent a parallel time machine that makes sure I’m always dressed for the correct period by the time I’m there. Kind of like a traveling stately home, complete with historical expert Jeeves.

  21. I really want to read this book.
    I’ve entered a ton of contest to get this ARC, but haven’t won one yet.
    Please…pick me.
    Thank you,

  22. OMG!! you’re giving one away??!!!!!T_T!!~dies~
    the cover is amazing!!!!!!!I love all you said of it!!!!!

  23. Sound interesting!! I can’t wait to discover this book. It Will be my first streampunk book! I love the cover, too!

  24. I’ve gotten sucked into steampunk after reading Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy and Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel, so I’d love ot win a copy of this book! Thanks for the giveaway!

  25. WOW!!! thanks so much for Giveaway and making it internationally..

    this books sounds really interesting.. wish I could win and read this book..

  26. Wow! Great interview! I haven’t read that much steampunk novels and I’m really looking forward to this one. It sounds like an unique, original world.
    As for the gadgets… I wouldn’t mind a robot who could do the housework for me, while I’m busy reading. :))

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  27. I meant *great review :)) Sorry, I got distracted. I’m very intrigued about this book because I’ve been a little disappointed by YA books lately… :-s

  28. Great review. Now I want this book! I was very disappointed when I went to download it to my nook and found that it won’t be released until 6/1!

  29. I so want it. The cover was the one that pulled me in and the synopsis totally killed it. Dang!

  30. Sounds fascinating! The gadget I’m in desperate need of lately is a “sleep” button for my toddler!

  31. I’d like a time management gadget — like the one Hermione had in one of the Harry Potters, only pure tech, no magic.

    I saw a “trailer” for this book at Steampunk World’s Fair last weekend and it looks fabulous.

  32. I recently read the prequel and can’t wait to get this. It will be my first steampunk.

    Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  33. If I could invent any gadget, I think it would be an invisibility button for myself. That way I could have me all sorts of crazy fun ‘n’ games! Te he!

    …Johnny Depp’s shower, here I come…

  34. I have heard so many fabulous things about this book! Thank you so very much for the giveaway! I NEED a gadget that would protect me from bad luck or one that stops me from running into things. I always seem to be at the wrong places at the wrong time hence the “bad luck gadget” and I am always bumping into things and getting hurt which is why I would need one that would perhaps beep every time I am about to do something that could potentially cause a scrape or bruise. Haha! Thanks again!

  35. I look forward to the creative technology aspect of the book.

    I’d love something with transportation. Airfare is so expensive!

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