Tuesday, 21 October 2014
#CBR6 Book 105: "Etiquette & Espionage" by Gail Carriger
Rating: 4 stars
Sophronia Temminnick is not all a proper young lady should be. She'd much rather be climbing trees, spying on conversations in the dumb-waiter and dismantle machinery than converse politely over tea. So her mother sends her off to boarding school, more specifically Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. Sophronia makes new friends on her way there. Miss Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott and her brother Pillover are both being sent away to school (Pillover is to go to a boy's academy, naturally) and discover that Sophronia has no idea what kind of school she's enrolling in.
The youngsters are attacked by sky pirates on their way to school and Sophronia's quick thinking to get them out of the dangerous situation makes her a possible new enemy. It turns out that the school is in fact a training academy in the covert arts and espionage and the young ladies must learn how to fight, sneak and even possibly assassinate, in addition to learning comportment and proper manners. Sophronia and her new friends (among them a Scottish noblewoman raised by werewolves and a cross-dressing urchin with a passion for inventions) do their best to foil Sophronia's nemesis, trying to recover a stolen prototype before it gets sold to enemies of the state.
I mostly very much enjoyed Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series and there is no denying that the woman has a very colourful and creative imagination. Her alternate Victorian England with vampires, werewolves, Steampunk and the like is a delight and while some of her quirks may get a bit exasperating, her books tend to be entertaining, if not always the heaviest in substance.
Etiquette & Espionage is the first book in her new series for Young Adult reader, and it's actually set quite some time before the Parasol Protectorate books. Readers of both series will be pleased to see younger versions of Lady Kingair and Genevieve Lefoux and I have no doubt that as the series continues, there will be more familiar faces.
Carriger is fond of a headstrong heroine (as well as truly outrageous names). I actually think Sophronia is a more likable heroine than Alexia (who could be a bit of a pill), but it's clear to see that Carriger's pattern of pragmatic and impetuous protagonist paired with a ditzy, somewhat silly best friend is re-used in this series. The third book in the Finishing School series is out at the beginning of November, and if I don't get round to catching up this year, I'm sure I will revisit Sophronia and her little friends sometime in the new year.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.