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.
First Thoughts: The blurb mentioned so many characters that I had to reread it: “Who’s part robot? Who’s got the unrequited love for him? Who’s Finley again?
The plot was engaging and the sub-plots interwoven provide more potential for the series. I struggled with the point-of-view shifts from character to character, and this seemed to make the clever sub-plots seem more complicated to follow than they could have been.
The characters drew me in at the beginning; they all have their quirks and distinct personalities. Finley is quick to punch people and I found that aspect of her personality pretty immature, even though the reason for her behaviour is explained. Her strange approach to conflict resolution took some getting used to, but by the end I accepted it as a part of her.
As for the others, their unique abilities helped them stand out from each other. I loved that they were working together as a secret team to protect Victorian England, but I didn’t bond with the main characters.
My favourite characters ended up being those whose point of view we aren’t given – the aunt, the American friend, and the rogue. The rogue, Jack Dandy, being my favourite.
The super steampunk tech made for some intriguing world-building, and I enjoyed the fun gadgetry in the team and the creepy technology from The Machinist. The fancy London of the Lords and Ladies, and the seedy, underground world of rogue, Jack Dandy were vividly described.
I read the book in 2011, and it wasn’t until I got the advanced reader copy of the sequel, The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, that I realised how memorable I’d found it.
Final Rating: 3.6 out of 5
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy steampunk lit with fancy tech, and a decent plot.