Summary: Finley Jayne has a darkness inside her which gives her unnatural speed and strength. It impels her to lash out at those who threaten her friends and to seek adventures proper young ladies would avoid. Few want to hire a girl so unusual, but Lady Morton decides to employ Finley as a companion to her daughter Phoebe, hoping that Finley can save their family from the dark secret that menaces them. Prequel to the Steampunk Chronicles. Available exclusively as an e-book.
Review: This prequel works mainly as a teaser for the following books in the Steampunk Chronicles. It is a short, light read that introduces the world of steampunk, as well as the heroine Finley Jayne. I suspect those who have read the following book, The Girl in the Steel Corset, would enjoy it a bit more than those who haven’t (such as myself), since Cross included some humorous references to a character who will not appear until later and might have, for all I know, included more such nods to the series. However, no previous knowledge of the series is necessary to understand the plot as a whole.
The plot itself reminded me strongly of Edgar Allan Poe’s Ligeia, which was troublesome mostly because the story lost a lot of suspense as a result. However, I liked that Cross combined this premise with that of Mary’s Shelley’s Frankenstein, promising a deeper exploration of what it means to be human as the series progresses. Quick pacing, a generous amount of humor, and a likable heroine in the form of confident and capable Finley Jane all add to the impression that Cross is a truly talented author with a phenomenal story to tell. I look forward to picking up a copy of the next book.