Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Finishing School #1
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released: February 5th, 2013
So I realize that Etiquette & Espionage is over seven years old at this point, and yet I’m still constantly hearing about this novel (and the series as a whole, for that matter). Etiquette & Espionage is the first novel in Gail Carriger’s Finishing School Series, a unique combination of steampunk/Victorian style writing and fantasy.
Sophronia is fourteen years old, and generally considered to be a complete nuisance by her family. She’s always getting into trouble, tearing up her dress, and finding ways to embarrass her mother. Hence the need for finishing school.
Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is actually several steps above what Sophronia’s family could have hoped for her, and so they didn’t hesitate with the offer. Perhaps they should have, as the school is far from a typical finishing school. Probably.
“If there is gossip to be garnered, garner it. If there are new dress styles to be imitated, imitate them. If there are hearts to be broken, break them. That’s my girls.”
Etiquette & Espionage is arguably one of the most delightful novels I’ve read in quite some time. You can really tell just how much fun Gail Carriger had here, as it shines through on every single page.
Sophronia’s story is far from a typical finishing school novel. After all, it involves a steampunk airship, vampire teachers, and lessons about seduction, poisons, and more. Now that sounds like an interesting school, if you ask me.
Thankfully, Sophronia seems to agree, and that fact has almost kept her out of trouble while at school. Almost. The girl has a nose for finding problems, and for getting herself into quite a bit of a mess, as the introduction of this novel has made clear.
Honestly, when I picked up Etiquette & Espionage, I hadn’t expected it to be so…cute? Is that the right word? I’m pretty sure it is. I actually mean that as a good thing, this series (I’m assuming, based on the first novel) is surprisingly light and bubbly, while also sneaking in plenty of commentary about the time period in which the world is set. It’s clever and fun, and even has a little mechanimal (mechanical animal) dog named Bumbersnoot. What more could I possibly ask for? (Side note: I named my Roomba Bumbersnoot after reading this).
I’m very much looking forward to reading the rest of this series. It’s going to make for a nice break from the heavier and tenser fantasy novels that typically grace my desk. I’ll take it!