Steampunk seems to be becoming the flavour of the year. Last year we had a big explosion of dystopian books, the second even more desperate than its predecessor. This year, steampunk is trendy, and a LOT of authors jump on the trendy-train and cook up some steampunk. For some authors, it just doesn't work. As I pointed out in my review of Photographs & Phantoms, some books just have some elements, but don't really immerge themselves into the genre.
The Stange Case of Finley Jayne however, was a pleasant surprise for me. Ms Cross managed to put a lot of detail into this short novella, making the steampunk setting believable. She describes several wonders of the steampunk age, including steam-driven mechanical horses and other inventions. Will it satisfy the hard-core fan? Probably not. It was better than I expected of a short story though.
What I liked about Finley is that she thinks like a real person. When she is being judgemental, she thinks "Maybe I'm just being judgemental, but...". I liked such insight in a main character, especially after reading so much stupid heroines that I just wanted to smack very hard.
She is like ultra-super-strong, so she is automatically kick-ass. She can jump out of buildings without twisting an ankle and punch your teeth out of your mouth without second thought. I haven't seen this kind of super power in a long time, and I'm looking forward to see why she is this way.
One of the things that particularly bothered me is how Ms Cross uses Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein in this story. While apparently, she hasn't read it herself. Maybe watched the movie or something. Frankenstein doesn't conduct his experiments in a castle. He really, really doesn't. I don't like it when classics are abused like this.
And now I know I'm being terribly corny, but the tiny history-freak was crying out loud when Finley put on a short skirt. A SHORT skirt in Victorian times?! You'd be hanged, thrown of a ship and maybe burned! Even prostitutes in that time wore long skirts. Finley tells us its "modern" and "fashionable". Well, I need a lot more persuasion to believe that.
To conclude a review that is almost longer than the story itself, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne is a very enjoyable steampunk young-adult short-story. It's a prequel to the first book in a series, The Girl in the Steel Corset. I'd like to read more about Finley's adventures, and that cover is very pretty, so I'll probably give it a try!
I believe you can still get this novella for free. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Finley Jayne knows she's not 'normal'. Normal girls don't lose time, or have something inside them that makes them capable of remarkably violent things. Her behavior has already cost her one job, so when she's offered the lofty position of companion to Phoebe, a debutante recently engaged to Lord Vincent, she accepts, despite having no experience. Lord Vincent is a man of science with his automatons and inventions, but Finley is suspicious of his motives where Phoebe is concerned. She will do anything to protect her new friend, but what she discovers is even more monstrous than anything she could have imagined…
Other reviews you might be interested in
- Review: Photographs & Phantoms by Cindy Spencer Pape (3/5 Stars)
- Review: Like Clockwork by Bonnie Dee (4/5 Stars)
- Review: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (4/5 Stars)