Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: Curtsies & Conspiracies (Gail Carriger)

If you're a fan of Ms. Carriger, be sure not to miss the 
special announcements at the end of this review!

Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School, #2)
Title: Curtsies & Conspiracies
Series: Finishing School, Book the Second
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Genre: Young Adult Alternate Historical Paranormal Steampunk
Rating: Teen (some violence, scary situations, scandalous flirting, vampire feeding, character assassination, espionage)
Told: Third Person Singular (Sophronia), Past Tense
Format Read: ARC
Find It On: Goodreads


Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?

Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy (won't Mumsy be surprised?). Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers' quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship's boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot--one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

*          *          *

Three Words: Historically authentic fun.

Writing: Pure wit with an authentic historical voice.

Setting: We return to Ms. Carriger's alternate paranormal steampunk world with its vampires and werewolves living amongst the more common folk (and scheming scientists) of Victorian England. We spend most of our time on the floating school, but we stop off in London for some shopping, dancing, and infiltration.

Story: After only six months at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, Sophronia is excelling above all the other girls in her class. While this doesn't prove too good for her social life, it comes in handy in all other areas as she quickly embroils herself in quite the jar of pickled gherkins. It seems that everywhere she turns, mystery and danger lurk in the form of unusual visitors, peculiar mechanical objects, and a batch of heavily-guarded throw cushions. But Sophronia certainly doesn't let a little danger get in the way of her curiosity, and by the time she is done sorting it all out chaos quite literally ensues involving Picklemen, costumed excursions, young gentlemen of the evil genius variety, and more than a few vampires. All in all, Sophronia's training is put to the literal test - but it's all in a day's work for a lady in training. 

Characters: The magnificent cast is back and even better than before! Sophronia is at the top of her game, and considering she's only six months into her training I fear the unstoppable intelligencer she will be when fully finished. Highly resourceful and completely in her element, she rarely needs help from anyone to get the job done (especially anyone of the male persuasion). At times Sophronia performs a little too well, but she learns that this can make the consequences that much more momentous - for everyone involved. All in all, there is never a dull moment to be had with Sophronia. The usual suspects return as well, all in rare form and, in the case of Sophronia's friends, growing more skilled with each passing bit of espionage she wrangles them into. We are also introduced to a few new characters, one of which presents Sophronia with a few new feelings (and a new love interest).

Romantic Relationship: While there are some romantic overtures, they don't come close to any sort of "relationship." By the end of the book, however, she ends up with two romantic interests - and one of them gets a kiss.

Favorite Bit: Lord Akeldama makes a hackneyed cameo!!! And there are hints of more of him to come. As one of my favorite characters ever in literature, I swoon at the prospect.

Series: This is Book the Second in the Finishing School Series. While Curtsies & Conspiracies has a complete plot arc, I most definitely recommend reading Book the First, Etiquette & Espionage, before reading this one. My review of Book the First can be found here.

ConclusionIt was such fun to be back with Sophronia and her friends! Ms. Carriger's writing and storytelling only improve with each passing book, and this was a pure delight. I recommend this book (and the series) to anyone and everyone.


Giveaway: To celebrate the release of Curtsies & Conspiracies, I will be holding a special Twitter giveaway in November! Check back next week for all the details on how you can win!

Fan Group: If you love Ms. Carriger's books as much as I do, be sure to join the Gail Carriger Fan Group on Goodreads here!

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