Title: Etiquette & Espionage
Series: Finishing School #1
Author: Gail Carringer
Publish Date: February 5th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Received for review from the publisher via NetGalley
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 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.
First in a four book YA series set 25 years before the Parasol Protectorate but in the same universe.
Steampunk books are pretty hit or miss with me, there’s no point denying it. So I was a little nervous about giving Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carringer a go.
I didn’t know quite what to expect. We had the boarding school of spies thing going on, so I thought that maybe it would be sort of a Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter THANG.
Only, y’know… with… steam.
It wasn’t quite Gallagher Girls, but that’s nothing against it. I’m just throwing that statement out there because based on what I’ve seen on Twitter, Goodreads, etc, I believe that I was not alone in that preconception. So I just wanted to clear that up. Etiquette & Espionage ≠ Gallagher Girls. Moving on.
Etiquette & Espionage read more like MG to me than YA, but that makes sense since the main character, Sophronia, was fourteen, an age that kind of straddles that line between the two. Sophronia is a girl who’s been sent to finishing school– she thinks because she’s so far from her mother’s idea of a proper lady, but NOT QUITE SO. At least, that isn’t the only reason. She’s been recruited to this finishing school to learn espionage. Sophronia is an interesting character. She’s not willfully disobedient, but she seems to have a streak of curiosity that leads to a lot of rule-breaking.
The focus of the novel seemed to be on Sophronia’s escapades outside of class. For on the way to school, an incident occurs that she spends the majority of her time preoccupied with. Her mild adventures were made somewhat more interesting by this Victorian steampunk world, which has bonus factors of werewolves and vampires.
My favorite part of this book, hands down was how FUNNY it was. I was cracking up and highlighting on my kindle like a madwoman, cackling all the while. EXAMPLE:
“You must watch your figures. Watch them!”
Sophronia, uncertain how she might do such a thing, ate bites between staring down at her own chest.
To sum up: If you’re a steampunk fan and you don’t mind a voice that’s younger than your average YA, you will laugh your butt off with Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carringer.
Need a second opinion?
“Etiquette & Espionage turned out to be a very fun, very YA-appropriate expansion of Carriger’s world.” -The Book Rat
Fan of spies?
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Also Known As by Robin Benway