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Monday, March 25, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Title: Etiquette and Espionage
Author: Gail Carriger
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Publishing House: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9780316190084
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


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.

Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail's legions of fans have come to adore.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from Amazon)


Being a fan of Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, I knew I could not miss out on this. Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate books - albeit back a few decades and such - Etiquette and Espionage is a deliciously droll and humorous read with a cast of characters one cannot help but fall in love with. 

Etiquette and Espionage gives to us a historical steampunk setting where werewolves and vampires are integrated into polite society and clockwork machinery is a norm. I'm not as big a fan of Victorian novels like my co-blogger is, but this is one that I found myself getting immersed in. I was lured in by the prospect of a Finishing School that not only transforms young girls into mild-mannered ladies but also into skilled intelligence gatherers and well, assassins. I wouldn't mind attending this finishing school and learning how to subtly stab someone with a dagger or a hairpin but since I can't, I'll have to settle for watching - reading, rather - Sophronia and her friends get into a whole slew of trouble and solve mysteries all  the while learning to dance the quadrille and act like a proper English lady.

The story begins with Sophronia causing trouble and her dear mother sending her off to finishing school with the headmistress who oh-so-conveniently happens to be visiting. On the way to the Academy they get attacked by Skywaymen - think Highwaymen with aerial crafts - looking for the prototype which they believe is in the headmistress' possession. Upon arriving at the school it turns out the woman she traveled with isn't who she seems and Sophronia's curiosity is piqued as the woman is unwilling to disclose the hiding of said prototype. Sophronia then takes it upon herself to solve this mystery accompanied by her mishmash group of friends, of course.

Our wonderful protagonist Sophronia is a lovable heroine; she's spunky and intelligent and wonderfully funny (very much like Alexia really). She constantly finds herself in trouble but has a way about herself that she always manages to get out of it. Her antics were highly entertaining and had me giggling at highly inopportune moments. The friends she gains while attending finishing school were an odd bunch; Dimity who I have to admit is very much like Ivy from the Parasol Protectorate books, there's also Genevieve or Vieve, a young inventor who supplies the technology used in their antics and Soap, a young man of African blood who goes along with her on her crazy schemes.

I can pretty much say that I love this series. It was definitely interesting getting to meet a few familiar characters when they're a few decades younger. I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment and in the meanwhile, I think my eyelash fluttering needs practice. For fans of historical novels with paranormal/steampunk aspects I suggest that this book be given a try, I'm pretty sure you won't regret it.



  1. I really enjoyed your review, and I can't wait to read this one. Thanks!

  2. I really liked Soulless, so I have to read this one as well. Sophronia sounds like a great character and I love the setting & plot of this book. Awesome review!


    1. Thank you so much! Sophronia is somehow like Alexia with her droll humor and wit. I hope you enjoy the book!