An action-packed, short-story prequel to the YA steampunk novel, The Girl in the Steel Corset
The Strange Case of Finley Jayne (Steampunk Chronicles #0.5) by Kady Cross
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: May 1, 2011
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
As an appetizer for The Girl in the Steel Corset, this short story works really well. It gives a tantalizing glimpse into the life of sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne before the events of The Steampunk Chronicles series.
Finley lives in an alternate-universe Victorian England where familiar, modern-day technology exists, but with a brass-and-steam twist in keeping with the actual technology of the real Victorian times. She has known since puberty that she is not a normal girl. When she gets angry, a strange power inside her kicks in that has super strength. Though it feels great at the time when she can defend herself against attack, the milder side of Finley is afraid of her wild side. What if she loses control and harms an innocent person?
Lady Morton is not afraid of Finley's wild side. On the contrary, she is grateful for it, because Finley will make the perfect secret bodyguard for her daughter Phoebe. Lady Morton gives Finley a beautiful room, lovely clothes, and an excellent salary, and Finley attends balls and other society functions with Phoebe while pretending to be Phoebe's distant relation.
Finley is surprised and worried for sweet, gentle Phoebe when she learns that the person Phoebe needs defending from is her much older fiancé, Lord Vincent. Finley's wild side thrusts her into a dangerous investigation to discover what Lord Vincent, an obsessed scientist, is up to. Finley agrees with Phoebe's mother it can't be anything good.
This short story is very well written and filled with action and adventure. It is a great introduction to Finley, who is an exciting heroine. She is strong, determined, honorable and loyal. Her struggles to keep her wild side under control and her desire to protect Phoebe at any cost make her a very sympathetic character.
This is also an excellent teaser for the steampunk universe of robotic horses, steam-driven carriages, and all manner of entertainingly odd, anachronistic technology.
Since reading this I've had the opportunity to read The Girl in the Steel Corset, and though it isn't necessary to read this short story before reading the book, I am grateful I didn't miss out on it. The book definitely lives up to the promise of this story.
Fantasy World-Building: 4
Action-Adventure Plot: 5