Monday, December 23, 2013

Review: Curtsies & Conspiracies - Gail Carriger

Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Series: Finishing School #2
Genre: YA, steampunk
Published on November 5, 2013
Published by Hatchette Little, Brown & Co.
Pages: 310
Read From: 11.30.13 - 12.7.13

Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four full grown guests? 
Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing so far! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy (won't Mumsy be surprised?). Furthermore, Sophronia has become 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.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? As always, I love the cover art, despite the character impersonator. I don't know if that really is supposed to be Sophronia; I'm going to assume that it isn't, because I never picture her looking like that.

Characters: Sophronia is just awesome. She's witty and intelligent and thinks fast on her feet - all highly good qualities in an espionage agent. We have all of the favorite characters from Etiquette & Espionage - Dimity, Soap, Sidheag, Veive, and Pillover - though he isn't in it as much as I would like. And of course, there's Monique, who is just too much fun to hate. I was sorry that so many of these awesome characters make an exit at the end of the book; I hope that doesn't mean they won't be in later sequels, because I'm going to miss them!!

The Romance: There is more of a hint of romance in this installment. Soap is taking some romance interest in Sophronia. Sophronia is pretty sure that she only thinks of him as a friend, and anyway, even if she didn't, it couldn't go anywhere. She's of the elite and he's just a sootie. Then there's Felix, a ridiculously flirtatious cad. I don't know if Felix is supposed to be one of those likable cads, because I honestly didn't like him. Presumptuous, flirtatious to a fault, and even condescending, he totally rubbed me the wrong way, and I was glad when Sophronia gave him the cold shoulder. However, her cold shoulder began to turn into flirtation as the story progressed. I don't know if she was maybe just practicing her manipulation skills (I hope so) or if she really did begin to like him (I hope not). But I did start to silently - and sometimes vocally - chastise Sophronia. Let's hope this doesn't become an annoyance in later books.

Plot: I loved Etiquette & Espionage, despite its lack of a definite plot. The Author used that one to build up her strange and thoroughly fascinating world. Curtsies & Conspiracies has tons more world building, but it also has a more specific plot, of which I was glad. A Frenchman has found a way to fly dirigibles high up in the aether. But Picklemen and Supernaturals are fighting over control of this technology, and the school is caught smack dab in the middle of it. It's up to Sophronia and her friends to figure out who exactly is on whose side, and why the Supernaturals want the technology so bad. We learn a lot about the social workings of vampire hives in this volume (and while I'm no fan of vampires, I have to admit that I do really like Gail Carriger's vampires), and more about the Picklemen. There's still a lot of things that I'm not entirely clear on, but I am confident that as the series continues, more and more will be revealed. Curtsies & Conspiracies has the usual humor and exaggeration that I enjoyed so thoroughly in Book #1, and it was a lot of fun seeing more of the world.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. As usual, it's bursting with thoroughly diverting humor and Victorian flair. I love Gail Carriger's writing style.

Content: None.

Conclusion: Chaotic endings are, I'm gathering, a tradition for these books. And I love them. They fit into the overall ridiculousness of the entire series, otherwise they would be out of place. As it is, though, one comes to expect nothing less than chaos, quick getaways, confusion, and a lot of hilarity. I just love the Finishing School series. It's fun, it's not serious like I at first thought it might be - in fact, there's not a serious bone in its proverbial body. And it's got lots great characters, especially strong female characters that can take care of themselves without having a chip on their shoulder. I can't wait for Book #3.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, fourteen-and-up, great for fans of Victorian and steampunk literature.

Others in the Finishing School Series:
1)Etiquette & Espionage
2)Curtsies & Conspiracies

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