Finley Jayne would have just been an ordinary servant girl in this steampunk version of London if she wasn’t two personalities in one body. Her dark side gives her supernatural strength and an incredible amount of anger, while her normal personality is sweet and unthreatening. When she flees from one of the numerous houses in which she’s attempted service, after (rightly) beating an aristocrat for sexually accosting her, she runs into Griffin King, a young duke who promptly takes her home to his relatively ragtag bunch of odd personalities. Each has a special talent, but they’ve also been targeted by a mysterious villain, The Machinist, who has it out for Queen Victoria.
This was an incredibly entertaining read that I just couldn’t put down. I loved the atmosphere of steampunk London and the special skills that each of the characters had. It felt almost like I was reading a classic superhero comic book set in Victorian London, with some vicious automatons added in. It’s a atmosphere at once familiar and different, so I could fit right in while still taking some time to learn about the world.
The book is pretty clearly a YA novel with a bit of an emphasis on Finley’s romantic relationships and her seesawing between Jack Dandy and Griff. It’s very much about her personal growth from a girl with two personalities into a girl who can control herself and unleash her feelings when it’s more appropriate. She changes quite a bit over the course of the novel; at times it’s difficult to get a grasp on who she is due to her separate personalities, but overall I certainly liked her as a heroine and felt I could understand her issues and hope for her to do better.
I did feel the book was a bit predictable; I figured one part out well before the characters managed it, and while I was probably meant to, I would have preferred that extra suspense towards the end. Plus I felt by the end that I hadn’t got to know many of the other characters particularly well; it was enough to like them, but not the same degree as I felt for Finley after her journey of self-discovery.
Still, though, I really enjoyed The Girl in the Steel Corset. I looked forward to reading it whenever I had a chance and I was very invested in the story’s outcome. It’s not perfect, but I will most definitely be looking forward to further volumes in the series.
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