Search This Blog

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger

Etiquette and Espionage is the first in Carriger's Finishing School series  for young readers.

"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."

This series is geared toward the lower end of the YA series and takes place about twenty-five years before the Parasol Protectorate series.

The first book started out really well.  Fourteen-year-old Sophronia Temminick is a trial to her mother, and after a messy incident with a dumbwaiter and a trifle, Sophronia is packed off to Mademoiselle  Geraldine's Finishing School for Young Ladies of Qualities.  The school, however, is not the typical finishing school that young ladies of quality attend.  First, the school is on a dirigible floating over the moors, and second it is a school for intelligencers.  Despite Sophronia's initial vexation at being shipped of to finishing school, she finds both teachers and subjects much more interesting than expected and much more in line with her own abilities.  Sophronia may struggle with a proper curtsy, but she has an inborn aptitude for espionage.

She makes friends with a few students, studies with a vampire and a werewolf, encounters flywaymen and Pickle Men, associates with the boys from the boiler room and from the school's partner school for boys (that caters to developing Evil Geniuses).  

The first book fills in the background for much of what will evolve in the next novels. Initially, I was disappointed that the book was for younger readers (I was expecting something more like Carriger's Souless), but then I realized that my granddaughter might really like it, and I began to enjoy it. 

 I ordered a copy for Mila, and decided to continue the series as they were all NetGalley offerings.

An ALSC Notable Book for Children
A YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Pick
A Horn Book Summer Reading List Selection

NetGalley/Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Steampunk/Ya.  Feb., 2013.  Print length:  327 pages.

Curtsies & Conspiracies spices things up a bit.  Sophronia is eager to remain at the school, and although her etiquette may still need work, she is quite adept at recognizing conspiracy and applies what she learns with aplomb.  While still a book for the younger end of the spectrum, there is more action and the plot threads seem to be connecting to a bigger picture.

There is a love triangle developing as well that speaks a little to the class distinctions of the day.

NetGalley/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Steampunk/YA.  Nov., 2013.  Print length:  329 pages.

Waistcoats & Weaponry is the third of the four books planned for the series.  The pace increases with each book, and by now, the reader is pretty well acquainted with all of the main characters. (I do wish Lord Akeldama played a larger role, though.)  Sophronia and her friends Sidheag Maccon and Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott are now sixteen. Complications come with age--especially when dealing with boys. 

Not only do the possible threats to "the world as we know it" have to be addressed, but difficult decisions about the opposite sex must be made.  Soap or Felix?  Felix or Soap?

The books are recommended for seventh grade and up.  Light reading and plenty of humor to counterbalance all of the serious goings on that Sophronia and her friends must deal with.  

I find the steampunk elements a bit distracting, but I think the age group the novel is written for will find them amusing.  I was also happy that the series became more involving with each book.

NetGalley/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Steampunk/YA.  Nov. 4, 2014.  Print length:  304pages.

Read all three in September; blog post scheduled for Oct. 3.


  1. Interesting. I don't think I've ever read a YA steampunk. This series sound like lots of actions/stuff going on. Definitely piqued my interest.

  2. Interesting concept--YA steampunk--and etiquette and espionage.

  3. I really enjoyed Soulless - the humour really worked for me. And you've reminded me to go and read the rest of the series.

  4. I've only read one of Carriger's books so far, and loved it. I'd heard she'd written a YA series but I hadn't given it much thought. It does sound good.

  5. I think my granddaughter will like the series although there are certainly a lot of Victorian conventions that she will not be familiar with. The first thing that might confuse her is the use of the term "trifle" as a dessert. But isn't that how we all gradually accumulate knowledge along with enjoying a story...

    I loved Souless, but I didn't find the rest in the Parasol Protectorate series nearly as good as the first. The Finishing School series got better with each book, but it is definitely a YA series.

  6. These seem like a great young YA intro to steampunk. Interesting that the YA series got better, while the adult series was strongest at the start.

  7. Unruly Reader - I found that interesting as well. The YA series lacks the humor and charm of Souless, but improves as a good series for younger readers.