Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

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 love the Steampunk sub-culture. I love the art, the fashion, the gadgets, the modern gadgets given that Steampunk edge, Steampunk games, and Steampunk movies. I’m yet to make up my mind about Steampunk in books. So far it’s been a hit or miss with me, the last two attempts turning me off somewhat, but I feel The Girl in the Steel Corset has swung me around to tentatively liking it and whetting my appetite for more Steampunk.

In saying that, I don’t feel the story grabbed me as much as I would have liked. I wasn’t particularly engrossed and I feel this owed to certain aspects of the story being noticeable and drawing me away from what was going on during a scene. For starters, the setting and world-building was set in the Victorian Era, but the majority of the time I felt as though it was set in a more modern age with lapses back into Victoriana. The gadgets were powered by steam, as you would expect, but were very modern in style and design (steam-powered hand-torches and motorbikes for example). The modernised facet also showed at times in character attitude, language, and clothing. Come to think of it, it was mostly language, both style and dialogue, that gave it the overall modernised-impression. I believe this would have been fine if it continued on throughout the whole story, but I noticed how characters would adopt a more Victorian air during some exchanges and scenes, only to go back to being more modernised once again.

Secondly, there were several times when something felt contrived to the point of spur-of-the-moment convenience for the characters during an action scene or conflict. Sometimes I find this far more noticeable in some stories compared to others, and I presume this is the result of the item not being mentioned in any way whatsoever beforehand. I noticed it happend a few times in The Girl in the Steel Corset and it did detract from the story for me as I was questioning where it came from when it was mentioned.

While I noticed all these things, while they drew my attention to the point of distracting me, there were some things in this story I thoroughly enjoyed and loved. Mainly the Steampunk. I loved the fashion detail, which has given me great inspiration. I loved the steam-powered contraptions even though they had a modernised feel to them, but it makes them more original. I love how one female character is a genius and the other can kick-arse, neither of them are push-overs. I love how the male characters are not controlling and have their own personal battles to deal with. What I really loved though is it was easy, light, and fun, at a time when I really wanted to read easy, light, and fun. I wanted to read a story with some mystery and characters that interacted well with each other. So for the distractions I pointed out, I feel as though I got more in return and it makes me want to read the sequel.
And maybe get a Steam-powered motorbike…

Word on the street is I love guest posters. It’s true! If you’re interested in guest posting on BA, whether it’s book reviews or something else book related, drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.

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