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I Belong

Early Review: Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Title: Etiquette & Espionage

Author: Gail Carriger

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Finishing School (Book 1)

Publication Date: February 5, 2013

Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 031619008X (Little, Brown Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0316190084 (Little, Brown Teen)

Reviewed by: Michelle


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.

Quick & Dirty: Adventure and proper manners filled with endless possibilities for this great read.

Opening Sentence: Sophronia intended to pull the dumbwaiter up from the kitchen to outside the front parlor on the ground floor, where Mrs. Barnaclegoose was taking tea.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Gail Carriger’s Etiquette & Espionage is her debut into the Young Adult world. Set in the same world as her Parasol Protectorate series, Etiquette & Espionage is a steampunk paranormal, filled with historical elements and delicious paranormal guests. From the first few pages, I was hooked. Now please let me gush a little more so I can get you to be hooked as well.

Sophronia Teminnick is a free spirit who has caused her mother many headaches. For the youngest in her family, and in the 1800s, she is expected to be prim and proper. But that is not the case for Sophronia. To correct Sophronia’s ways, she has been sent to Madame Geraldine’s School for Ladies of Quality, a finishing school. But little does Mrs. Teminnick know that behind the facade of a finishing school, Madame Geraldine’s is actually a training school for espionage and other spy activities.

I loved Sophronia. I would have wanted to be her at her age. She is smart and witty, funny and fun. Carriger made her into an engaging character filled with confidence, great common sense, and enough modesty to be one of my favorite characters. Carriger voiced her really well, creating this fantastic heroine to follow around. It doesn’t matter that Sophronia wasn’t considered to be lady-like, nor does it matter that she wasn’t as prim and proper as the others, I loved her for who she was.

Etiquette & Espionage has some fantastic characters, with personalities on each side of the spectrum. Adding a paranormal quality adds to the dimensions of each character, allowing for the pages to be filled with more personality than I ever expected. From the eccentric teachers who teach the students about stealth and proper sword fighting, to the students themselves, who all make for a merry bunch of misfits.

Most of Carriger’s world derive from an already established setting, familiar to those who have read her previous books. But I will say that within Etiquette & Espionage, there are elements that are new and refreshing. Steampunk details compliment this historical era, making the visual background stimulating to my mind. I loved the clothing, adding to the many vivid images in my mind.

Etiquette & Espionage is written in third person, but there is something so personal about the way Carriger does it. I still felt close to Sophronia and knew her thoughts.  Carriger filled the pages with realistic cultural references, from the words used in dialogue or mannerisms describing the characters. I understood where Carriger was coming from, as well as her characters. Not once did I take a moment to pause and second guess what I was reading. The words flowed well and the story moved perfectly.

I highly urge you to read Etiquette & Espionage. The characters and the world was engaging and enjoyable. The dialogue was humorous and witty and I enjoyed it every page of the way.

Notable Scene:

The carriage turned, this time following some invisible path out onto the heath. The mist began closing in around them, or they were moving into it—hard to tell which.

Sophronia actually began to feel a tiny bit of dread in the pit of her stomach. What if there really are were- wolves roaming the moor?

And then, there it was. The mist broke. The last rays of the sun cast a long shadow out of the carriage and lit up Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. And no, the school wasn’t dashing around the moor on hundreds of tiny little legs. It was bobbing above it in chubby floating majesty.

Finishing School Series:

1. Etiquette & Espionage

2. Curtsies & Conspiracies (November 2013)

FTC Advisory: Little, Brown & Company/Hachette Book Group provided me with a copy of Etiquette & Espionage. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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