A steampunk adventure in which an omniscient narrator delves into multiple heads and a quartet of friends take lurid risks to save their fifth counterpart.
Fin de siècle London meets New York when Finley, Griffin, Emily and Sam take passage on a dirigible after a local villain, Dalton, absconds with their friend Jasper. Cross (The Girl in the Steel Corset, 2011, etc.) deftly weaves storylines together, fostering each character’s romantic aspirations and nicely complicating them with low social station, part-machine composition or some other hindrance to bliss. The titular girl is Mei, and the collar she wears is one of many newfangled inventions readers can explore. Several others come through the vehicle of supporting cast member Nikola Tesla, whose gadgets come to life with Griffin’s paranormal powers. It is, of course, an uncanny invention that impels Dalton to kidnap and exploit Jasper in the first place, as well as the familiar desire for riches. The juxtaposition of polar-opposite settings—rough-and-tumble Five Points and the opulence of the Waldorf Astoria, for instance—makes for playful diversity among characters and intriguing sources of tension. Cross nails the old dialects of New York, England and Ireland, imbuing her world with texture and authenticity.
Surprising, vivid and cohesive—the work of a pro. (Steampunk. 13 & up)