Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

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Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: An engaging heroine, witty dialogue and fabulous world-building make the first in this teen spin-off from Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series worth checking out whether or not you've read those books. Gail Carriger popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: February 2013
Publisher: Atom
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1907411588

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Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is being sent to a finishing school. She's none too happy about it, until she gets there and finds there's rather more to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality than meets the eye. Because while her mother thought she was there to be finished, she's also going to learn just how to finish - anything or anyone who needs finishing.

This is a spin-off from/prequel to Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, which I've never read - I'm not really a huge steampunk fan - but I'm very glad I took a chance on this one. I'm told there are some fun bits in for people who are familiar with that series, but I was able to follow this perfectly well without any prior knowledge. Sophriona is a very likeable heroine - more at home tinkering with machines than learning about proper manners - and the world-building here is fabulous. We get steampunk, mechanimals, vampires, werewolves, the wonderful Finishing Academy, another school, for the education of evil geniuses, and an exploding wicker chicken. And, as one of Carriger's characters says, Who doesn't want an exploding wicker chicken?

As you may be able to guess from that brief list of some of the elements included here, the chief thing to recommend this novel is that it's fun. Really, really good fun. I read it in two sittings - it would have been one, but the pesky day job got in the way - and had a wide smile on my face right through reading it. It's not without flaws, as I thought many of the supporting characters were on the thin side, and the plot seemed to take a while to get going and then end up being rushed at the end, but in terms of sheer light-hearted enjoyment, this is pretty hard to beat. Carriger's witty dialogue, which is particularly strong, deserves a special mention also.

Definite recommendation - I'm already looking forward to the next book (especially if we get to see more of the wonderful Captain Niall!) and will be moving out of my comfort zone into adult steampunk fiction to try the Parasol Protectorate series.

For another fabulous school where there's decided more than meets the eye to the pupils, don't miss Ally Carter's brilliant Gallagher Girls series, starting with I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You. If Sophronia's feisty attitude has got you in the mood for another excellent historical series with a great heroine, Stephanie Burgis's Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson is one of my favourite trilogies of recent years. That one starts with A Most Improper Magick. We also enjoyed Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger.

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Buy Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger at

Bookinterviews.jpg Gail Carriger was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.


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