Strange Case of Finley Jane and the Stranger Case of the ebook prequel

The advent of ereaders and the ebook has brought some great things, and some not so great things.  I love my nook – I can carry hundreds of books around with me at all times.  I love some of the extra stories that are now being made available – and the deleted scenes that are put on author’s websites and I can print and put the pdf on my nook to read when not sitting at my computer.  I love the portability.

I hate the prices of ebooks.  I get why they are still so expensive – the same editing process, same royalties, same print formatting, etc., needs to go into an ebook as a published hardcover.  But, when adobe digital editions screws up and eats my electronic copy, well, that’s hard to deal with (that happened this weekend and all my purchased books which required that software are gone.  GRRRRRRRR.) And I HATE that the stinking amazon kindle format isn’t compatible with my nook.  I paid for the Joan of Arc short story by Michael Scott, and I can’t access it on my nook **stomps feet**.  But, what is starting to annoy me even more then that, is that while some of these short stories are extras (like the Death of Joan of Arc) some of them are…  well…  ways to avoid putting real effort into a whole novel.  Yep.  I said it.  And while Finley Jayne wet my appetite, it really seemed to me that it should have been the first book in the series – and been a whole book.  Not a stinkin’ prequel which got short handed, and as a result, is good, but could have been great.  I blame technology for creating this monster.

As for the monster that is Finley…  well, this is really our introduction to Finley.  There is something different about her, but she really doesn’t understand what.  She is stronger then she should be and we don’t know what else she can really do.  She gets sacked in the beginning because she punched a governess, in defense of a child.  She is hired immediately by Lady Morton for that very same reason.  Finely is smart enough to recognize that there is more to the reason for being hired then it would seem.  Slowly (although how slow can it really be, the entire story is a mere 80 pages since it’s a prequel), we learn that Lady Morton is leery of the match between her daughter and Lord Vincent.  And Lord Vincent is sort of a mad scientist.  The gift to Finley from Silas (Finley’s step-father) in the beginning of a copy of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was a not-so-subtle hint at what would be coming.  Lord Vincent hopes to transplant his deceased wife’s brain into Phoebe.  Needless to say, Finely spoils this.  And in the end, Lord Vincent kills himself.  Finely resigns her post and is referred to a friend of Lady Morton’s for her next employment – which is where I assume she will be for the Steel Corset installment of this series.

For a prequel, I think we get a decent introduction to what I assume will be our main character/heroine throughout the series.  We don’t get a tremendous amount of background, but we do know she is different from other girls her age.  I liked Phoebe and Lady Morton as characters.  I thought they added to the story well.

There was enough potential in this story, however, to have been more then just a prequel.  And, as a result, what could have been a novel unto itself felt shorthanded and abbreviated.  The author didn’t have the luxury of being subtle and as a result, the foreshadowing might as well have had big neon signs attached that screamed “pay attention, here’s the big fat hint as to what is really going on and what will happen!!!!!!!”  Yes, that statement needs all those exclamation points – because that’s what it felt like.  The whole “no… it couldn’t have been a human brain” was like being hit on the head with an anvil.  And it doesn’t take a genius to guess right then and there – about halfway through the story – to see what Lord Vincent intended.  Given the luxury of a higher page count, it might not have beenso easy to see what was coming, the author might have been able to hid the hints better.

And, while I know this was a preview, I am left with the hope that we learn more about Finely.  Again, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that she’s likely at least part automaton but I hope we start to get some of the why/how.

This seems like it was the introduction to an interesting series.  And I must say, that while I felt compelled to compare a little to Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel given the steampunk thing, it really felt like a very different world and, I think despite the less then subtle foreshadowing, the writing was a little better here then Ms. Clare’s has become (The Mortal Instruments/Clockwork writing has to me, become a little stale and repetitive).  I hope Steel Corset takes advantage of a higher page count because Finley seems to have a lot of promise.


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