Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

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Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Second in the Finishing School series is nearly as good as the first - and even has a love triangle I liked!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: November 2013
Publisher: Atom
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1907411601

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Warning: Spoilers for Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger below. Read on at your own risk.

With the end of her first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality fast approaching, Sophronia is caught up in a conspiracy involving a mysterious trip to London, a prototype that everyone wants to get their hands on, and a potential threat to a friend. Can she save the day?

Despite not being a huge fan of steampunk in general, I was very impressed by the world-building in Etiquette and Espionage after I took a chance on it earlier this year. I've been looking forward to the sequel for ages, and it's another enjoyable read.

I have to say that I don't think it's quite as good as the first one - perhaps it's something of a victim of adjusted expectations. With the first, as it was in a genre I don't particularly like, I wasn't expecting much and was taken aback by just how much fun it was. With this one, with raised expectations, I thought it fell a tiny bit short. Partly, perhaps, it's because the world-building, as good as it is, is never going to feel as fresh the second time around. This means the flaws in the first one - notably Sophronia's friends, who seem rather flat, with the wonderful exception of 10-year-old tomboy Vieve - are more exposed.

On the other hand, there are some parts which are a marked improvement on book one. Sophronia has not one but two love interest, Soap - the sootie she became friendly with in the course of book one - and Lord Mersey, a boy from the other school, which trains evil geniuses. This is one of the very few times I've ever read a love triangle and wished that it was more to the forefront of the book! Both suitors are extremely well-drawn and they both have strengths and weaknesses, meaning that I was actually invested in Sophronia's feelings towards them - a real rarity for me as it's typically an element I don't enjoy in books.

In addition, the pacing of the plot here seems much stronger than in book one, when I felt it started slowly and was rushed towards the end - here, it's more of a sustained excitement and the mystery of just who the villains are is well-hidden. It's still a really fun read, and Sophronia stands out as an impressive lead character. As well, it's significantly darker than the average teen book, as Sophronia is forced to do certain rather unheroic things to try and save the day.

Overall, this is well worth reading and I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

The Finishing Academy is one of my favourite fictional schools. Another is the Gallagher Academy, setting for Ally Carter's brilliant Gallagher Girls series, which finished recently. The six books in that series start with I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls) by Ally Carter.

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Buy Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger at


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