Title: Etiquette and Espionage
Author: Gail Carriger
Review Summary: Great world building, a strong female protagonist, no angsty relationships, and an incredibly fun boarding school. This one’s a keeper.
Etiquette and Espionage, Gail Carriger’s first foray into young adult fiction, is set in the same fascinating world as her Parasol Protectorate series with its enjoyable blend of fantasy and steampunk elements. As a bit of a tomboy, Sophronia doesn’t quite fit her mother’s idea of a proper lady, so her mother is thrilled to send Sophronia off to finishing school. Fortunately for Sophronia, the finishing school is not what her mother thinks, teaching young ladies not only the “fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but [also how] to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course” (source) .
I was worried I would like this book less than the Parasol Protectorate series, mostly since as an adult I’m not the target audience. Instead, I really enjoyed the break from the somewhat angsty, complicated romance of the later books in the adult series. I also found that many of the things I liked about the adult series were present in Etiquette and Espionage, including the strong female protagonist and the author’s sharp sense of humor.
One new thing I liked was that the book had what I would call the “Hogwarts appeal.” The reader is lured in with the constantly re-occurring theme of a young teenager finding out they’re secretly awesome and being swept off to learn to be even more awesome. Like the idea of living in the Regency era with balls and duels and scandals, I think the idea of being moved to a more magical reality then our own has an almost universal appeal. Whether that’s true or not, I certainly enjoyed the boarding school aspect of this book. The plot and the character development were both at the light but still well done end of the spectrum, so I would recommend this to anyone looking for an easy and enjoyable read. Fans of the Parasol Protectorate series are unlikely to be disappointed.