Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
November 4, 2014
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** my reviews of Finishing School #1 and #2 **
Class is back in session... Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what--or who--they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.
Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine's proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger.
After the first two books in the Finishing School series, a YA spin-off of the Parasol Protectorate series, readers are familiar with the main characters, their Steampunk Victorian London and the supernaturals that inhabit it. Now that Sophronia is enrolled in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, learning to be an intelligencer, readers have been along on her exploits and adventures and the question is what trouble Sophronia will be a part of next.
Now that we have learned about the vampires, werewolves, mechanicals, and Pickleman it's time for their alliances, their dislike of each (some of) the others to impact things again.
All Sophronia plans to do is get Sidheag back to Scotland, to her pack. It is not a school - or adult - sanctioned trip but they foresee no true danger. When they find a train to stowaway on, it seems luck may be with them.
Until it's discovered who's train it is and just what sort of mess Sophronia, Dimity, Sidheag, Felix, and Soap have found themselves in. Even more than her training from Madame Geraldine's may be necessary to get them all out of this safe and sound.
The humor, wit and originality that I loved in the first two books is once again present here. It is set in Victorian era England and I really enjoy the varying ways the different characters adhere to the social norms of the time - or don't, as the case may be. The expectations around gender, class, race, age all play into the story very well. With some added ideas about the vampires and werewolves.
It still feels like the story and characters fit in the period, without being as restricted as that might mean.
I especially appreciated that, along with the external struggles, Sophronia faced some internal dilemmas She was presented with several different things that forced her to examine decisions she's made, how she's seen and interpreted things. On more than one subject.
That fantastic mix of danger, intrigue, humor, and characters I love more and more adds up to a book you don't want to miss. (Though I do recommend reading the first two books first as you should more enjoy the character interactions and relationships then.)
After Waistcoats & Weaponry's ending, I cannot wait to read the fourth and final book of the series, Manners & Mutiny, currently due out next year.
review copy received thanks to publisher, via NetGalley