I should preface this post by acknowledging that I am a HUGE fan of Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, so I had rather high hopes for her first foray into YA literature.
All my expectations were exceeded!
Etiquette & Espionage introduces readers to Sophronia, fourteen-year-old bane of her mother's existence. Rather than learn the proper way to curtsy or worry about her dress, Sophronia would rather be climbing a tree or dismantling a mechanical, much to the chagrin of her family. After a particularly embarrassing incident involving trifle, an elderly lady's coiffure and a dumbwaiter, Sophronia is enrolled in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality - a fate Sophronia views as worse than death. But all is not what it seems at this finishing school where students learn the proper application of eyelash fluttering alongside the proper use of poisons and garrotes. What happens when a highly inquisitive and independent young lady finds herself in a school for spies? Let's just say neither Sophronia nor the Academy are prepared.
Using her trademark gift for turn of phrase, Gail Carriger has created a wonderfully imagined new series sure to draw new fans to her steampunk world. Sophronia is an engaging and enjoyable heroine who teen readers will relate to and root for as she navigates the world of Finishing School and tries to solve the mystery of the missing prototype. Both characters and the world are artfully crafted, easily drawing readers into an alternate universe where aether is as real as werewolves and vampires. As with any first novel in a series there are plenty of threads left unwoven, ready to be picked up in the next installment. I am already gnashing my teeth at the wait for the second Finishing School book (Etiquette and Espionage releases in February 2013 so I expect quite a wait). Overall a fun, thoughtful and fast-paced read and I am looking forward to more of Sophronia's adventures in the future.
Recommended for Readers of:
Ally Carter, Catherine Fisher, Cassandra Clare, Laini Taylor