Kady CrossGirl in the Steel Corset was my, intriguing and well-written, introduction into the steam-punk genre. Although it took several chapters to get my head around what my mind should be picturing, the visual imagery was well developed. There is a blend of history, machinery and an almost magical substance that altogether create a world that seems so close, yet also so far away from our own.

Finley Jayne is somewhat of an anti-hero. Her duality of personalities is as confusing to the reader as it is to herself for a majority of the novel. The darker, confident and impossibly strong, side of Finley, is nevertheless what secures her acceptance into the band of misfits living in Duke Griffith King’s mansion – and with it, their secrets and dangerous mission.

Griffin himself plays duel roles – the leader who has been involved in the plot his whole life, with extraordinary power to access the parallel spirit world, but also the (often jealous) friend and brother to his fellow outcasts. He is accompanied by the brooding half-machine Sam, and his supposedly unrequited love-interest, mechanic Emily, who knows everything about everything – as long as it is made of metal. Rounding out the gang is the American cowboy Jasper who’s supernatural speed proves useful, yet his interest in Emily causes Sam to examine his own feelings.

Their pursuit of the dangerous Machinist criminal causes them to doubt each other, seek the help of a renowned underworld crime boss, Jack Dandy (who has his roguish eyes on Finley) and visit the Queen of England. The whole thing is utterly fantastical – but that’s what a good fantasy is all about!

Criticism? The agonising question of  ‘will they, won’t they?’ relationship between Griffin and Finley is never answered. The tension is real, I can’t have imagined it, and I don’t think it is my romantic nature that demands a good snogging in every book I read. I’m not opposed to books without romance, just can’t stand an closure that leaves an ending like theirs untied. The almost-as-slow development of Sam and Emily’s relationship is of only slight consolation.

Overall, a good book. Not the greatest I have read in recent weeks (some are hard to beat!) but most certainly not the worst. Steam-punk isn’t quite my ‘thing’, but I would be interested to read others in the genre. And I will eagerly anticipate the sequel – if only to find romantic closure.

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