If I don’t enjoy a book, it’s unlikely that I’ll read the sequel. But I made an exception for Kady Cross’ The Girl in the Clockwork Collar for two reasons. First, Kirkus starred it. Second, I made a similar exception earlier this year—for Kim Harrington’s Perception—and was happily surprised. So I figured I’d take a chance.

Read the last Bookshelves of Doom on 'No Safety in Numbers.'

Sadly, it appears that my luck ran out with Perception. Because The Girl in the Clockwork Collar suffers from the same problem as The Girl in the Steel Corset—it’s insanely repetitive. This time, instead of being treated to various iterations of the phrase “ropey red hair,” all the characters stand around quirking their eyebrows at one another:

The big lad arched a dark eyebrow at her but didn’t speak.

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When Jasper arched a brow, Dalton continued...

The man raised a gray brow and stared at Griff with tired eyes.

A sharp, dark brow arched.

His eyebrow jumped at her voice.

Emily raised a brow—a wealth of warning in that simple gesture.

Dalton arched a brow.

As if reading her mind, Griffin arched a brow.

Finley arched a brow.

She raised a brow.

“Miss Finley,” Dalton said with an arched brow.

Finley regarded him with an arched brow.

Griffin arched a brow.

Jasper arched a brow.

She arched a brow.

When she didn’t immediately elaborate, Jasper raised a brow.

Seriously. What are the chances that six—no, seven—of the major players in any given group of people would even be capable of waggling one eyebrow? Just...no. So if all of the “perfect”s in Twilight—or "arghs" in Fifty Shades of Grey—drove you bananas, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that The Girl with the Clockwork Collar is not the book for you.

Beyond that, it was nice to see an aggressive heroine, both externally (physically) and internally (sexually). The third-person omniscient narration follows three of the characters. While some readers may find the rapid shifts in perspective confusing, others will be happy to in finding a YA novel that isn’t written in the first person. The American cowboy-isms—an occasional “fella,” “dang,” “lily-livered” or “tarnation”—that pepper Jasper’s sections feel like an attempt at creating a distinct voice, but as the narration always rapidly lapses back into a more formal voice, they ultimately come off as inconsistent. In comparison to the repetition,* though, that’s a minor problem.

It’s a rarity, but I suspect that (in the right hands) these books would be far better as a TV series than they are in print. After all, if the CW announced a steampunk Fantastic Four set in the Victorian era—with Drake Hogestyn, Eyebrow King, guest-starring as Federal Marshal Whip Kirby—you’d totally watch it, right?

I know I would.


*While the eyebrows win the day, Finley’s Jekyll/Hyde nature was explained—not just mentioned, but described at length—at least five times. A rundown of all of the characters’ enhanced physical abilities and Finley and Griffin’s problematic difference in “social sphere?” Three times each.

Let's be honest. If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy is most likely being tragically unproductive due to the shiny lure of Pinterest.