Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
Well, they didn’t need to photoshop her back quite so aggressively, and I really wish they hadn’t gone the Vampire Diaries route (with the celebrity lookalike), but other than that, it’s striking, basically period-appropriate. This model is not 14. Honestly, though, all it takes for me is the name “Gail Carriger” along the bottom, and I am there.
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.
It’s the first in a new series, set in the same universe as, but prior to, The Parasol Protectorate.
As I mentioned earlier, I will read anything Gail Carriger writes, and this was not a disappointment.
Friends (Old & New)! Sophronia makes quite a few awesome friends, and at least two of them are familiar to readers of the Parasol Protectorate. I won’t spoil the surprise, obviously.
Macgyvering galore! There are several people in the story who are smart and inventive, coming up with unconventional solutions to problems.
Action Heroine! Although she looks fierce here, Merida is mainly a tomboy, not a warrior (yet, anyway). Sophronia is similar–she’s athletic, but isn’t really focused on violent pursuits–which is awesome! Many times genre fiction tends to conflate action and extreme violence, but they don’t have to go together.
Soap! One character is named Soap, and he is wonderful. I don’t want to spoil anything about him, so please enjoy this picture of several varieties of soap.
Mechanical Dog! Bumbersnoot is the most endearing mechanical pet I’ve ever encountered.
I think I’ve already said it all, right? Gail Carriger wrote a book, there are awesome characters, there’s a mechanical dog (and lots of mechanical servants, too), and clever heroines and heroes. Love it all! I will just mention one aspect which surprised me–the Parasol Protectorate is absolutely hilarious; I usually laugh out loud regularly while reading one. This book was not quite as funny (still laughed several times), but was still just as enjoyable and flat-out fun.
Borrowed an ARC from work.
[Edit: and then bought the first hardcover that came into the store.]