Author: Gail Carriger
Publication: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (November 5, 2013)
Description: 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 field 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.
In this sequel to New York Times bestselling Etiquette & Espionage, class is back in session with more petticoats and poison, tea trays and treason. Gail's distinctive voice, signature humor, and lush steampunk setting are sure to be the height of fashion this season.
My Thoughts: This second book in Carriger's Finishing School series had all the intrigue, fashion, steampunk goodies, and Victorian manners of the first book and added some romance too. Sophronia and the other young ladies are busy learning all of the things female spies of high society need to learn.
Sophronia is a natural and the best student of her class which causes the other girls to ostracize her. Sophronia is hurt but not deterred and she still has some friends in Vieve the ten-year-old cross dressing inventor who is the niece of one of her teachers and Soap who is one of the sooties who work in the engine room to keep their floating school floating.
The major excitement in this episode has to do with a valve that has been invented which will allow fast travel through the aether. Many factions - vampires, Picklemen, and the Queen's own Shadow government - want to have control of this new gadget. Naturally, Sophronia is right in the middle of the problem trying to figure out what the gadget does and who wants it.
A couple of subplots concern Sophronia helping Vieve get into the rival boys' school which trains evil geniuses and which requires a bit of character assassination to get rid of a teacher at the school who would make Vieve's clandestine entry impossible. Sophronia's guilt at the consequences of her plot is a sign that she is growing up. The other subplot also has to do with growing up. Sophronia is starting to attract the attention of boys including both Soap and Lord Mersey, the son and heir of a Pickleman Duke.
This book was a lot of fun to read. The steampunk and paranormal world building was intriguing. Watching Sophronia come to terms with her world and her future was entertaining. I can't wait for the next book!
"Oh my goodness, is that an electrosplit goopslimer port? I do believe it is. And is that a Thrushbotham pip-monger swizzle sprocket? Oh, two swizzle sprockets!" Vieve was practically squeaking in excitement.I got this ARC at ALA this past summer. You can buy your copy here.