Expected Publication Date: May 22, 2012
What happens when someone you love becomes a weapon to use against you...
In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling -- or dangerous.
Sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne and her “straynge band of mysfits” have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper, hauled off by bounty hunters. But Jasper is in the clutches of a devious former friend demanding a trade—the dangerous device Jasper stole from him...for the life of the girl Jasper loves.
One false move from Jasper and the strange clockwork collar around Mei’s neck tightens. And tightens.
From the rough streets of lower Manhattan to elegant Fifth Avenue, the motley crew of teens with supernatural abilities is on Jasper’s elusive trail. And they’re about to discover how far they’ll go for friendship.
More than ever, Finley Jayne will rely on powerful English duke Griffin King to balance her dark magic with her good side. Yet Griffin is at war with himself over his secret attraction to Finley...and will risk his life and reputation to save her. Sam, more machine than man, finds his moody heart tested by Irish lass Emily—whose own special abilities are no match for the darkness she discovers on the streets.
Now, to help those she’s come to care for so deeply, Finley Jayne must infiltrate a criminal gang. Only problem is, she might like the dark side a little too much....
I was actually taken by surprise while reading The Girl in the Clockwork Collar. I think Kady Cross has come into her own as a writer. TGCC still has the same playfulness and aesthetic as The Girl in the Steel Corset, but these things don't seem to overwhelm everything else in this novel. The novel moved along much more quickly and smoothly without the page long asides about what everyone was wearing or tinkering with, but clothes and devices were still in the forefront. She also dropped a lot of the allusions and parallels to X-Men and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which added authenticity and originality to her voice.
The characters, too, seemed to take on additional complexity and sophistication in TGCC. Many of the characters are actually called out on their flaws by other characters. Sam becomes less broody, Emily becomes better at communicating, Griffin learns to show a little weakness and take himself less seriously, Finley learns to be less of a maverick, and Jasper becomes a fully formed character. (Perhaps a large part of my increased enjoyment of TGCC also come from the fact that Cordelia is not present!)
The mystery/adventure in The Girl in the Clockwork Collar was also substantially better. Cross did a good job of subtly laying out hints and clues, slowly building to the final big reveal -- I picked up on where she was going, but a lot slower than I would like to admit. All the different pieces of the puzzle actually made sense in the context of the story.
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar was not perfect; Cross still describes poor Emily's hair as "ropey," "ropes" or "rope-like" an absurd number of times. Girls still have instant distrust and dislike of each other simply because they are girls. Cross takes a few too many liberties with some historical figures, and for a series that appropriates so much from Asian culture, it really sucks that the only Asian character --she who appears on the cover and for whom the book was named -- lacks the same nuance and complexity afforded to the other characters. However, I enjoyed reading The Girl in the Clockwork Collar a lot more than The Girl in the Steel Corset, and think The Steampunk Chronicles may shape up to be a pretty good series.
3.5 stars of 5
This review also appears on Goodreads; a review copy was provided by the publisher.