The Girl in the Steel Corset (The Steampunk Chronicles #1)
(historical fantasy, steampunk, light/YA romance)
This fabulous series is published as a young adult series, but is just as enjoyable to an adult (as long as you don’t mind reading about teenage characters, but given that this is set in an alternate Victorian England, teens are very nearly adults in a way they aren’t in modern society). The Girl in the Steel Corset is the first novel in the series, but there is also an ebook prequel available: The Strange Case of Finley Jayne. (Amazon & Barnes & Noble links). I read the prequel first, because I downloaded it when it was a free sample. (It’s no longer free, but the charge for it on either site I linked to is minimal, and worth the entertainment value.) I don’t think you would need to read the prequel in order to understand and enjoy this first novel in the series, however.
The basic premise is that a group of Victorian era teenagers have somehow ended up with these special powers, and find themselves investigating crimes committed by automatons which are acting against their programming. Because, oh yeah, this is most definitely a steampunk world. There are fantastical machines, some of which will sound very like steam-powered versions of things we have now, and some of which are advanced even beyond our technology. (Robot servants? Not in our households… yet!)
I loved the way everything was developed: the plot, the characters, the world, and all. Lovely. Fabulous. And oh so much fun. My one really noticeable issue was how attached Dandy was to Finley even though we don’t see a whole lot of the reason why, but I could pass that off as mostly due to her personality when he met her. It does make me wonder if he will continue to be as attracted to her as the series continues and she tries to develop her control. If his feelings don’t waver and we don’t get an explanation for it, I will complain then. For now, it’s a minor issue for me, though it has the possibility to turn into something bigger.
If you want to read a stand-alone book, consider waiting until the whole series has been released before picking this up. While it is a book you can read without having read the prequel, and while the plot of the first novel is resolved in the book, there are still lots of things that are left open for the next book, or even later in the series. I’m glad that book two is out already, yet I suspect I’d be happier if I could buy the whole set at once, right now, and read them all back to back. Still, it’s a great book and the start to what’s shaping up to be a great series, so I do recommend reading it.