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Image: Amazon.com

Dear reader,

Today I’m reviewing a book I was excited to start and disappointed when reading: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross.

In brief: ladies’ maid Finley Jane contends with her dark alter ego, a shoehorned love triangle and bad writing 

I so wanted this book to be good. Although I’m unfamiliar with steampunk, it’s a genre I’m interested in exploring, the premise was attention-grabbing and (most importantly) the cover is pretty. Unfortunately, that’s about all this book has got going for it.

That’s not exactly true. I liked the alternative mechanized England which Cross created, but I do wish that the author had spent more time developing the characters and the plot and rather less time describing what they were wearing (which at some points reached My Immortal levels of unnecessary).

Perhaps it was the writing style, but something about the relationships between the characters felt very forced. Finley only seemed to need one or two insignificant conversations with someone before they were head over heels for her/BFFs for life. Of course lots of books take shortcuts when it comes to developing relationships, but with Finley it just felt odd and rushed – to the point where I wonder how exactly Cross is going to spin out this blessed love triangle for a whole series.

The heroine, Finley, is the blandest kind of bland you can imagine. She supposedly has two personalities, but the only obvious difference between them was that her ‘dark self’ has super-strength and is slightly less boring. Stephenie Meyer is probably one of the most maligned writers to ever exist, but give her credit – at least Melanie and Wanderer in The Host actually felt like two separate personalities rather than Cardboard Cut Out and Cardboard Cut Out… With Superpowerz (which was what Finley and her alter ego felt like).

There are awful lot of supporting characters in this book. Some – like Griffin King (Love Interest #1) and evil mustachio-twirling villain The Machinist – are pretty standard and not really worth writing about. But there are others – including the brave yet surprisingly pragmatic inventor Emily – who were genuinely entertaining. In particular, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a bit of a crush on the roguish and charming Jack Dandy (Love Interest #2). If I do end up reading the other books in The Steampunk Chronicles, it’ll most likely be to figure out what exactly is going on with the mysterious master criminal.

As Young Adult literature goes, this sticks pretty tightly to the formula without executing much of it particularly well. If the premise really interests you, I’d recommend at least giving it a try. There are enough entertaining side characters and marvellous technology to keep the casual reader at least mildly entertained. Just don’t expect anything too coherent.