It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.
Design – Alison Impey Photo – Carrie Schechter
I really like the covers for this series. I love the rich background color, with the ornate pattern modified with gears. The girl’s pose is dynamic, and I love how she’s holding the scissors like a weapon. I like how the girl is in black and white because the gold of the scissors and the ampersand stands out even more. The dramatic lighting is eye-drawing and I love how the ampersand is woven behind and in front of the title.
Etiquette & Espionage is Gail Carriger’s YA series debut. Sophronia is young and intelligent, curious and mischievous, causing her mother to ship her off to finishing school. Sophronia is plunged headlong into mysterious plots, lessons on discreet methods of murder, and the exploration of her new environment. This book takes place in the same steampunk world as The Parasol Protectorate series. It’s fun and quirky with no shortage of action and intrigue.
- Sophronia – Sophronia is curious, confident, and not content to sit by while exciting things happen around her. She is constantly sneaking out, climbing around the airborne school, and exploring forbidden areas like the boiler room. I love her attitude about her friends’ differences, her hesitance about violence, and her unwavering pursuit of the truth. Sophronia isn’t afraid to get into dangerous situations, and she’s determined to figure out what Monique is hiding. She’s kind and humble, but she’s straightforward and not afraid to tell someone they’re wrong.
- Soap – Sophronia makes fast friends with Soap, one of the young men working in the boiler room that keeps the school afloat. Soap is charming and eager to participate in Sophronia’s adventures. He wants to make sure Sophronia is safe on her outlandish exploits, but he does so in a way that’s purely helpful instead of condescending. Seeing as Sophronia is only 14, I appreciated she and Soap’s relationship being mostly friendship with some mild flirting.
- plot – Etiquette & Espionage is about adventure and mystery. There are a few intriguing guys – Soap and a mysterious student at the boys’ evil genius academy, but there is no love triangle, or even romance really. It’s all about what Sophronia’s focused on – discovering and exploring everything about the school, and figuring out what Monique stole and where she hid it.
- Monique – One of my YA pet peeves is conflict with a snobby or popular classmate. I have no particular reason – it just usually seems like such a shallow conflict and I’d rather read about some other kind of conflict. Monique is snobby and older. It would have been fine if she hadn’t been punished by being demoted to the first years’ dorm and classes. I understand that the punishment put her under closer surveillance by Sophronia, but Monique is one of those characters with no evident positive traits. I like that she seems to be good at deception and plotting, but I just didn’t enjoy reading scenes that included her.
- relation to Parasol Protectorate – I have read and enjoyed all five books in the Parasol Protectorate series, which are adult books (because sex) in the same world as this one. It was a bit distracting to me because in this story there are people who are related to characters in the Parasol Protectorate and my brain would just latch on to these names and try to figure out how they were related, and whether this book took place before or after that series. I’ve decided that this series is before the other chronologically.
“I didn’t hear or see anything. Although I have been wondering, sir, how you eat? Or should I say who?”
The vampire said nothing.
Have I revealed that I saw too much? Quietly Sophronia added, “And the soot on my dress, sir?”
“I didn’t see anything.” Professor Braithwope smiled down at her, showing a small hint of fang.
Sophronia grinned back. “I’m glad we understand each other, sir.”
– Sophronia + Professor Braithwope loc. 2751
“Thank you kindly for your help,” said Sophronia, rather awkwardly formal.
” ‘Course, miss,” said Soap, coming in far too close and tucking a loose bit of Sophronia’s hair behind her ear before swinging himself back over the railing and clambering away.
Dimity gave Sophronia a long, suspicious look.
– loc. 3281
Acquired: bought (ebook)