25 October, 2013

Etiquette & Espionage - Review

Publication date: 05 Feb 2013
by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN 10/13: 031619008X | 9780316190084
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Category: Young Adult Mystery/Steampunk
Keywords: Young adult, mystery, steampunk, finishing school, friendship
Format: Hardcover, paperback, eBook
Source: ARC via publisher at SDCC

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners—and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail Carriger's legions of fans have come to adore.


Etiquette & Espionage is Gail Carriger's first foray into the YA market. As a fan of Carriger's steampunk historical Parasol Protectorate series, I was excited to see what she would do with new characters and see what she could add to this world. The cover to this book is also gorgeous, leading to some high expectations on my part.

Unfortunately the book fell short of those expectations. I usually enjoy Carriger’s whimsical and flowery prose, but it soon began to wear on me. Because there is a mystery plot, I expected a lot of action and intrigue. However, I found the story to be slow and not very suspenseful. I never felt that Sophronia was ever in any real danger and I wasn’t as invested in the mystery as I should have been. This book felt more like a middle grade novel to me than YA, with a main character who is only fourteen and a strong focus on friendship with little romance. That’s not to say that I don’t like middle grades books. I like them very much. But I still expect the plot to be engaging and this one just didn't go anywhere.

Despite my issues with the book, I did enjoy aspects of it. Sophronia is a really fun character. She has a curious and rebellious nature and I enjoyed watching her get into crazy situations and then attempt to get herself out of them. There is also some really great world building and it was fun to immerse myself in an imaginative world full of mechanical creatures, werewolves and floating finishing schools. I also loved the friendships that Sophronia forms with her new schoolmates I hope that we get to explore those relationships further as the series goes on.

I did not love this as much as I’d hoped but Carriger has laid the groundwork for what could be a really fun series and I am looking forward to the next installment. Readers new to Carriger’s may want to start with the first book in the Soulless series. Carriger fans will enjoy this one.

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Visit the author online at gailcarriger.com and follow her on Twitter @gailcarriger

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