Gail Carriger has a lovely narrative voice and can be counted on to offer sensibility with a twist. Etiquette & Espionage is no exception.
This is her take on the Harry Potter sorcerer’s school, only its a finishing school for young ladies of a more … active persuasion.
We start out as ignorant as the main character, Sophronia, who objects soundly to being sent away to learn to be more ladylike until she discovers, quite rapidly, that there’s more to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality than one might think.
From the very start, she’s breaking the rules (all with very good reason, of course) and discovering what she’s not supposed to know. But she was accosted by flywaymen on her way to the school with the apparent headmistress and overheard demands for a prototype.
Sophronia is not the type to let such knowledge lie fallow. She must solve the mystery while choosing any side that does not include the most detestable Monique who lies for her own betterment and is clearly up to something.
Add in Dimity (a proper lady to be from a very unproper family), Lord Maccon’s (from the Parasol Protectorate series) granddaughter some generations removed, another debut as first years are called, a 9-year-old crazy inventor, a sootie, and a mechanical dog, and you have a grand adventure.
My only quibble is the purpose for the school. Sophronia buys into it, establishing her loyalty to the school above any other purpose, mainly because the other choices involve Monique, but it’s never made clear who they are working for and/or what their aims are.
However, it means I still have more to discover as the series progresses, and discover it I will (though I’m behind already) because the storytelling is just great fun.
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