I started reading Finishing School series after I got through Soulless (also by Gail Carriger) and I wanted to have some more of this amazing world. Finishing School series are set in the same world only some years before. I noticed that the reviews on Goodreads are not particularly good and say that the characters are immature and so on, but, hey, the girls are about 14 years old! They are supposed to be immature.
Etiquette & Espionage introduces us to Sophronia, a girl who would rather climb trees than indulge in conversations about fashion with her sisters. Her mother decides to send her off to a finishing school, where she is supposed to learn how to become a lady. But her mother didn’t have all the information about the school her friend suggested – this school trains the young ladies in etiquette, but also they have special classes where they learn how to spy, protect themselves from danger, poison people and many other useful skills that would help them to become spies and assassins. The school is actually not a building but a flying airship. Teachers are quite interesting too – they even employ a vampire and a werewolf as teachers. On the way to the school Sophronia gets in trouble and her curiosity makes her start spying from the day one. In the first term she learns a lot, and she also manages to become friends with most other girls in her group. The story gets more and more exciting.
I really loved the first book and was worried that the second one will lose part of the charm, fortunately it didn’t.
Curtsies and Conspiracies takes off almost at the same point in time when the first book ended. A lot of mysteries and adventures. Girls get tested and Sophronia has to struggle for a while on her own. If the first term was all about learning, the second puts this knowledge and learned skills to the test. A lot more boys coming in and more supernaturals too.
In this book Sophronia gets deeper and deeper into matters of real espionage and discovers some well kept secrets. The progress in technologies brings in new trouble. Everyone wants to get their hands on it. In the process, some of Sophronias friends are in danger, but she is there to save the day once again.
I really like the progress in Sophronias personal growth and her relationships with her friends. She is a very strong female character and I would like to be friends with her. She might not be honest, but she certainly has strong principles and is very reliable as a friend. Reckless and charming.
I would definitely want to live in such world. It is very exciting. Seems much more interesting than ours. The author has put a lot of research into her books to make setting and fashion in accordance to the time. I really love the style and steampunk elements of this book. It is easy to read, but the language is woven like fine lace. The characters are vivid, the setting is different than in other “school” books, and the story swoops you away. Many compare it to Harry Potter. I would say that it is nothing like Harry Potter except being set in an unusual school and giving the same vibe. If you don’t mind a book about teenagers and their problems, this is a book for you. I rate both books by 9 out of 10. They kept me entertained, and I could not solve the mystery from the very beginning. Can’t wait for a chance to read the third book.