ARC REVIEW: Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1), by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1), by Gail Carriger

Date(s) read: June 29 – July 1, 2012
Genre: YA Steampunk

Etiquette & Espionage (#1) Amazon | Goodreads
Deportment & Deceit (#2)

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.

First in a four book YA series set 25 years before the Parasol Protectorate but in the same universe.

My Thoughts

Thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for providing me a copy of this book for review!

I had heard so many wonderful things about Gail Carriger’s writing that the second I saw that she was releasing a YA series — Finishing School — I knew I had to get me hands on the first book, Etiquette & Espionage! I felt it would be a great introduction to her writing and a prequel to reading her Parasol Protectorate series.

While I expected the novel to be a good stepping stone to Gail’s other series, I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did! In fact, when I first saw it, I couldn’t help admiring the gorgeous cover — the purple background with the mix of baroque and machine parts, the black and white silhouette of a girl holding scissors, and the gorgeous layout of the title with the gold ampersand swirling all through the cover.

I love a good cover.

When I cracked open the book and started reading, I was immediately hooked. It reminded me just a smidgen of Harry Potter — but with steampunk instead of witchcraft. It was also a bit older and more mature than HP, with plenty of humour, action, and just a little bit of silliness. It also had plenty of what I expect in a good steampunk novel — machines, fancy dresses and corsets, and a very cool school.

I really enjoyed all of the characters, especially the main character, Sophronia. She’s quirky and a perfect blend of tomboy, innocence, and naiveté. I loved how she was always wanting to break the rules. All of the other girls at the finishing school were perfect compliments to Sophronia’s character. I only wish that there was a little more including of Mlle. Geraldine — even though the school is named after her, she seems to have a real background role.

This really is a great introduction to Gail Carriger’s writing. It’s smart, funny, and exactly what I’m looking for in a good steampunk novel — and it would be perfect for someone just new to the genre. I think this will be a very exciting series to read — and I can’t wait to read more of what Gail Carriger has to offer!

If you enjoy steampunk, but want a lighter read in the genre, this one is a good fit. I liked that it was YA and didn’t demand too much from me — sometimes that’s good in a book! If you like a good mix of humour, action, and just plain ol’ fun, this is a good pick.



29 thoughts on “ARC REVIEW: Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1), by Gail Carriger

  1. I have book 1 of the Parasol Protectorate on hold at the library – recommended to me from a book group I’m in 🙂 I’m looking forward to it. Glad to hear this one will be good too.

  2. I haven’t read anything by this author either but steampunk scares me. I have had absolutely no luck with the genre so I don’t know how I would feel about this one. So happy to see that you enjoyed it so much and you’re right, that cover is gorgeous.

  3. I don’t know that I’ve read any steampunk to be honest, but I’m very interested in this book. I think the cover is so eye-catching, and something about the description just seems really intriguing! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed this one 🙂 Looking forward to reading it now!

  4. I’ve been looking to try some steampunk, so I might give this a try soon. It sounds fun! I actually got a book from the library that’s supposed to be like Firefly, steampunk, and Pirates of the Caribbean all wrapped in one (that’s how a reviewer described it, though I can’t remember the blog now) so I’m going to give that a go first. If it doesn’t seem really “steampunk” though, I’m going to check out this book.

    Great review Kristilyn!

  5. I’ve had this one in my hands for FOREVER, so I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet, especially since the release date is coming upon us… I will have to check it out soon, and I’m assuming I will enjoy it, especially because I did like the Parasol Protectorate books (especially the first one).

    • I need to read that series — I have the first one on audio and should give it a listen! I was just so in love with the cover for this one that I had to read it right away. 🙂 I hope you like it!

  6. I had to wait until today to read your review because I was reading the book I just finished writing my review for it 😛 I thought it was a really good book as well. I found it a tiny bit slow in some parts though. Definitely a good book for someone not sure about the steampunk genre, since it’s there, but you don’t have it stick out much. I can’t wait for the next book! I love a good boarding school setting! I laughed at Mlle Geraldine most of the time, since she has no idea! 😉

    Great review!

  7. When I read the synopsis it made me think of a book that I read and loved last year: Grave Mercy. This one sounds so awesome and I love the cover. I think that I’ll maybe suggest this one for the library. I know a few girls who would love something like this.

  8. This sounds fun! I have the 1st 4 books in her other series and have yet to read them. Everyone raves about them. I will definitely have to give this series a shot, as well. It sounds uber fun, especially if it reminded you of HP!

  9. Pingback: Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge (22) | Reading In Winter

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