Michelle’s Paper Garden: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Title: The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1)

Author: Kady Cross

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Year: 2011

Type: Hardcover

Number of pages: 473 pages

Genre: science fiction, steampunk, young adult, historical fiction, mystery

Summary: 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.



I was so excited about a steampunk murder mystery story with a badass heroine that as soon as I got this book for Christmas, I dropped my schoolwork and the other book I was reading to dive into this tale. Then I started reading the thing and it held my attention for the most part. I was a little annoyed with the love at first sight thing because I am so very tired of that idiotic concept. Griffin King, the super rich and handsome hero, accidently runs over Finley Jane, the supposedly badass heroine mentioned above, and just like that they are attracted to one another. Bleh. Oh, and then there is a love triangle that includes a devilishly handsome criminal mastermind who is very obviously a nobleman as he gains and loses his cockney accent. He also falls in love with her very quickly.

To top it all off, there is an almost second love triangle going on between three secondary characters, who are honestly more dynamic and interesting than those mentioned in the previous paragraph. The attraction is more believable and sweet than the instantaneous love experienced by the others.

Enough with the mushy stuff and on to the murder mystery! The mystery is kind of lame. Now, I may have been slightly ruined after reading A Game of Thrones and trying to wrap my head around that complex web of a plot, but the twists in this book were pretty easy to solve. It took one or two clues before I guessed the whole evil plot and before I guessed most of the supposedly shocking twists about the characters, as every single one of them has a twist. Maybe others will find the mystery more challenging, but I thought it could have been concealed a little better.

The actions scenes were interesting. The main characters have powers and these powers make for some really cool fight scenes; they were usually well described fight scenes too that most likely involved at least one murderous automaton. On the topic of automatons, the steampunk theme was well done; it was always present, though sometimes the machines were only mentioned in passing.

Overall, I liked the book. They explained most of the mysteries that popped up throughout the book and for the most part the characters were interesting. The main character was a butt-kicking, abnormally strong girl, which was a nice reprieve. However, now this might just be me, but I think the author could have finished it all up nicely in one book. There is no reason for not one, but two sequels. I will read the sequels because I want to know why she is dragging on the story for another two books, but my expectations are not too high


I’d recommend it, but don’t expect too much. It’s a young adult mystery novel, not Sherlock Holmes, so it may be very easy to figure out.


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