Book Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

Series: Steampunk Chronicles, #1
Publication Date: May 24th 2011 by Harlequin Teen

Summary: 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.

Review Overview:

  • Vibrant characters; I love the secondary characters more than Finley and Griffin!
  • No passionate romance in this one, but there are two love triangles!
  • Fantastic world-building

First of all, can you say cover love?! I absolutely love the cover for THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET. It truly captures the feel of the book: great outfits, a kick-ass main character, and of course the steel corset.

In THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET, the Machinist, an – of course – evil villain, has been committing random crimes throughout London. Main character Finley and gang are trying to uncover the mastermind while juggling control over their supernatural powers. Finley is struggling with her alter ego: a violent girl with brute strength. Cross describes this book as a mix between The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and X-Men. A mix of steampunk with a blend of superpowers, you get THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET.

The plot was intriguing, but did not really captivate me while I read. To be honest, I did see where the plot was going and I guessed who the bad guy was way before the Finley and friends did. While this gets me bothered sometimes, I didn’t mind at all when I read STEEL CORSET because getting to the end was just so fun. Despite its predictability, Cross had me hooked with her fantastic characters and beautiful world-building.

STEEL CORSET is just so full of vibrant characters. While Finley has some charm to her, I have to admit that I absolutely love the secondary characters more than Finley and love interest, Griffin. Emily and Sam top my list of favorites. I love that Emily is the mastermind behind all the operations. She is the one who deals with the machines and comes up with the inventions. I love reading about such an intelligent and compassionate girl. She is so well-respected by the other characters because of her brains. On the other hand, I was immediately drawn to Sam when I heard about his predicament. I guess I’m just a sucker for tortured souls. I find myself constantly cheering for him, despite the fact that he’s full of self-hate.

The romance in the STEEL CORSET is unfortunately very subtle. It’s there, but it’s not the main focus. Well, there is an evil Machinist roaming through the streets of London so I guess it’s alright. If you’re looking for some passionate confessions of love, move on and come back to STEEL CORSET when you’re more in the mood for butt-kicking action. Despite the fact that romance takes the backseat in this novel, there are two love triangles going on! The first is between Finely, Griffin, and the notorious Jack Dandy, and the other is between Emily, Sam, and Jasper. While the book ends with the girl choosing one guy over the other, I’m curious to see how the character dynamics play out in the later novels.

Kady Cross is now one of my favorite world-builders because her version of Victorian England is just fantastic. I’ve read a handful of steampunks and I have to say that Cross’s version is just so much fun to read. She really takes the time to explain these gadgets and the science behind them. Not too much that they are boring, but enough that I get an understanding of how they work. The Organites, or the “wee beasties”, that play such a crucial role in this world are just fascinating.

Overall, THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET is a fantastic YA debut from author Kady Cross. I am so looking forward to the next books in the series! If you are a fan of steampunk, definitely pick this one up. I look forward to reading more of Cross’s work, and I may even check out the adult novels she’s written.


  1. You’re making me want to read it! I’ve only read one other steampunk book (that I thought was YA and ended up being VERY adult lol) and it started out the same some machine killing people in London. But the fact you’re so excited about it makes me want to read it :D

  2. I’m so glad you liked this one! I’ve been on the fence about it, even though it is kinda steampunk. XD I think I might definitely have to check this one out now.

    (And I never got to mention it – but I LOVE the new layout. It’s so bright and fresh. :D)

    1. I was on the fence about it for a long time. I don’t quite remember what made me decide to pick it up in the end…

      Thanks. :D

  3. I just finished reading this and really liked it! I’m not usually into steampunk, but this was great. And I totally agree – great secondary characters. I can’t wait to see what happens with Emily and Sam! Great review. ;)

  4. I absolutely love a well-built world. I’m glad to hear that i can expect that in this book. As for not feeling the story, well, I just hope I like it when I read it! :) Great review!

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