Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) – Gail Carriger

Little, Brown and Company, 2013

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Sophronia is a tomboy of the first order. She would much rather spend time climbing dumb waiters and figuring out how they work than learning to curtsey, which is why her mother decided to send her to finishing school. Sophronia soon realizes that Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy is no ordinary finishing school. She is learning the art of eyelash fluttering as well as how to poison her dinner guests. However, not everything is as it should be at school. Air pirates are attacking the school looking for something the meanest girl in school has hid from everyone, even the instructors. Sophronia, along with her friends run headlong into the mystery.  Set in a steampunk Victorian England and the first of four books, Etiquette & Espionage will enchant readers.

Review: This book had been on my to read list for such a long time. During the winter break I finally had a chance to read it. I loved it! It was witty and refreshing. I adored the steampunk setting. Carriger did a wonderful job of creating the world without spending too much time on all the intricacies, which could have taken away from the plot. (Carriger wrote an adult series, The Parasol Protectorate set in the same world. I highly recommend this series as well and will be writing a review shortly.) The mechanical servants reminded me a bit of the TV show, The Jetsons. The paranormal aspect of vampires and werewolves were interesting and done differently than most books do. They were traditional with just enough innovation to make them interesting characters.

Besides the inventive setting, I enjoyed all of the characters. So often with recent young adult novels the main character is well fleshed out and has interesting character development, but the secondary characters are lacking in depth. This is not the case with Etiquette and Espionage. Dimity and her brother, Sidheag, Soap, and Vieve all have interesting backgrounds. I can’t wait to get to know them further in subsequent books. I think Carriger did a wonderful job of developing the relationship between Soap (who works in the boiler room on the drigible and is ‘colored’) and Sophronia (from an upper middle class family). The class dynamics between all the different characters made the book and the mystery much more interesting.

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I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, Curtsies & Conspiracies.I am not very patiently waiting for my hold at Austin Public Library.

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Etiquette & Espionage delight and humor teens and adults alike. I would highly recommend it for anyone who enjoyed Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers. The premise of both novels are similar in nature.

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