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the girl in the steel corset

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.


Rating: 3.5/5

This book is going to be kind of hard to review, because my feelings about it are so mixed. In the first half of the book, I was completely captivated by it, and I loved every page. In the second half, the facepalming started, and I… Well, it just wasn’t quite as pleasant as the first half. Therefore, I’ll just talk about the good points and bad points separately in this review.

Good points:

  1. Once I started reading the book, I knew that I’d love Finley. She has so much fire in her (well, the darker and more reckless side of her anyway), and I really like that in my female heroines. She completely kicks ass.
  2. The “superpowers” are so cool! Even though they’re not superpowers so much as a kind of evolution, I still think that they’re really interesting. The explanation for their presence was also given (and it wasn’t some haphazardly put together one), which I really appreciated. I would really like to be able to throw someone across the room.
  3. None of the love interests were douche-y. In YA books, there’s a tendency for the authors to create one super nice love interest and one asshat love interest. In this case, both of them were really sweet. There was no such thing as “I really like you so I’ll be a total dick to you”. Yes, Jack Dandy was still a bad boy, but he was a decent human being towards Finley. I might like asshats, but after reading so many books with guys like that, I really need a break. The romance in this book provided that break.
  4. The romance wasn’t overwhelming. There are certain books where the romance takes up like 50% of the book, which frustrates me, because I hate romance novels. I’d much rather read a book in the perspective of a psychotic murderer who enjoys describing the innards of his/her victims than read a romance novel.

excited dance

The good points are pretty darn solid, y’all. But then there are the bad points that just undo some of the good impression that I have of the book. And we shall go into them now.

Bad points:

  1. It’s love interests, which means that there’s more than one love interest. Have I mentioned that I hate love triangles? Furthermore, Jack Dandy was mainly just there as a love interest! He had barely anything to do with the plot, for goodness sake.
  2. The plot is not only extremely predictable, but also very slow. I knew who the Machinist was once that mannequin showed up on Jack’s doorstep. I also knew what he planned to do with the mannequin once it was reported stolen. THERE WAS NO SUSPENSE ANYWHERE. Furthermore, they take FOREVER to figure out what I knew instantly. Predictability can be forgiven, but making your characters exceptionally slow when they’re not supposed to be cannot be forgiven.
  3. Sam. TSTL. Enough said.

banging head against wall (This GIF is selected for the sole purpose of Sam.)

Overall, the writing was decent, although more showing was needed, instead of telling.
There was a little bit of humour present, which made reading the book easier. Griffin’s character fell a little flat for me, especially because a significant amount of his thoughts involved Finley == Considering the exceptionally slow pace of the plot (they seriously took forever), I wanted to give the book 2.5-3 stars. However, I appreciate the strong female characters in the forms of Finley and Emily, and so decided to raise the rating up to 3.5 stars. Sort of recommended.

If the city of London was a body, Whitechapel would be the groin; a great unwashed area that only showed itself under the cover of darkness, and only for the most salacious of entertainments.