Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Finishing School, Book 1

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother’s existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea–and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right–but it’s a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine’s certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

Review: I have not completely finished the original series but when I saw that the author had planned new novels in the same world, I was immediately intrigued. In addition, after trying steampunk adult, we are here with steampunk young adult books. I must say that in the end even though I might have preferred the first series, I still had a good time with this first volume.

We discover Sophronia, a girl who behaves differently from a lady to the chagrin of her mother. In fact she loves to climb, explore, study or understand the mechanisms of all things. To change this, her mother decides to send her to Miss Geraldine’s finishing school for the development of qualities for young ladies. You can imagine that the girl is far from happy. But on the way, accompanied by her guardian but also of a girl joining the institute: Dimiti, as well as her brother, Sophronia will have to put her talents to work to save them from attacks and to manage to go where they’re waited. But this event will make her understand that her companion hides many secrets, including an object that everyone seems to want and our heroine is determined to find it to give it back to the rightful owner. She also discovers very quickly that she thought that this school destined to help her becoming a lady is much more than that, and she will learn a lot of things she does not suspect. She might also enjoy these studies more than she originally thought. I must also say that people who move around her are all amazing.

The story was pretty cool, even if perhaps something was missing for me. I took great pleasure in finding names that we knew from the original series such as Lefoux or Maccon for example. The world is as always very interesting and it was nice to find this idea of ​​steampunk mixed with creatures of all kinds. Sophronia is a girl who has a heart of gold but who is always the first to break the rules. This is how she will meet many characters who help her throughout the story. As I said, different personalities are found here, tomboys, inventors, clumsy ladys, all together for some pretty adventures. The plot was also pretty cute, even if not very complicated and I’m curious enough to see what the author reserves her readers for the future.

I liked the first book and I look forward to see what will happen. However, I think I may finish the first series before returning to it.