I discovered the steampunk genre a few years ago when I first attended New York Comic Con and I’ve been thoroughly captivated by it ever since. I won’t even attempt to define such a complex genre, but there are many attributes of this science fiction sub-genre that I adore, such as steam or clockwork powered tech, the magic of electricity, gears and gadgets that can do fantastical things, and (let’s not forget) dirigibles.
The Girl in the Steel Corset is the epitome of steampunk to me. A perfect mix of Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the X-Men. Kady Cross paints an enthralling picture of Victorian London, crafting a visceral world filled with dangerous automatons and deadly power struggles.
Our heroine, sixteen year old Finley Jayne lives the life of a servant girl. The son of her current employer is a violent and dreadful lout, casting fear into Finley’s life and forcing her to fight for her survival. Luckily, Finley has the benefit of not being like your average teenage girl. Something powerful, dark and dangerous lives inside of her, but its power is so great that she can barely control it.
In her haste to escape the clutches of the improper young lord, Finley finds herself barreling into Griffin King, the Duke of Greythorne. The noble and honorable Duke offers to care for Finley and help her understand her powers. Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Finley has two very distinct personalities, which cause her shame and embarassment. These feelings eventually become relief when she finds out that the Duke of Greythorne and his close friends also possess some very unique abilities.
There’s Emily, the resident engineer, in charge of running the lab and responsible for creating some of the most technologically savvy gadgets for the team. Then you have Sam; think Tin Woodsman plus Wolverine. Cordelia is Griffin’s psychic aunt and she’s certainly not afraid to use her powers to get to the bottom of any matter. I would be remiss if I were to leave out Jack Dandy, the roguish crime lord who amazes at every turn. He’s a master manipulator, always up to something nefarious, and can always be depended upon to look out for his own self interest. Jack has taking a liking to Finley, which of course sets Griffin on edge. Whether Jack is friend or foe, I’m not sure, but he keeps things lively.
Feeling like she finally fits in, Finley joins Griffin and the gang to investigate The Machinist, a criminal mastermind using automatons to commit unspeakable crimes. While I love many aspects of this story, it wouldn’t have made such a lasting impact without its unique, imaginative, and well developed cast of characters. Even though Finley is brave, strong, resourceful, and can kick butt when she needs to, there is a vulnerability that remains at the forefront of her character. She’s had her share of hardships and heartaches, yet her bouts of cynicism don’t hold her back from growing as a person. She doesn’t back down from a challenge and her independent streak gives her the courage to do things that she never thought she could.
Overall, The Girl in the Steel Corset is an incredibly imaginative steampunk tale that is not only beautifully written, but deeply atmospheric, capturing the darkness and grit of Victorian England. Kady Cross has crafted a thrilling story full of action, adventure, gadgets and wonderful characters. Steampunk fans won’t want to miss it. The Steampunk Chronicles series continues in 2012 with The Girl in the Clockwork Collar.
Check out a book trailer for The Girl in the Steel Corset below.
Angela Leonard discovered the paranormal genre with Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When she isn’t at the cineplex watching the latest horror or superhero movie, she’s reading a book, playing video games or rescuing stray cats. She blogs at Dark Faerie Tales and can be found on Twitter and Facebook.