Release Day Review: Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger

February 5, 2013 Review 6

Etiquette & Espionage

(Finishing School, #1)
by Gail Carriger

Genre: Paranormal Steampunk YA |
Excerpt: Yes Book Trailer:  Yes
Reviewed by: Abigail | Source: ARC Swap

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (February 5, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 031619008X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316190084


Excellent – Loved it! Buy it now & put this author on your watch list.


Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but the also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail Carriger’s legions of fans have come to adore.


It is thrilling to return to the same steampunk and paranormal alternate Victorian England that made The Parasol Protectorate series so brilliant.  In ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE, the first in the four book Finishing School series, set 25 years before Alexia’s series, we meet a young girl named Sophronia.  In classic Carriger fashion, Sophronia is the embodiment of cleverness, bravery, and falls woefully short of the societal definition of a lady.  In other words, she’s fantastically entertaining, just like this book.

Once again, the writing is spot on.  Very proper, when propriety demands it, and then irreverent and wacky when, for example, garlic mash potatoes are hurled at a vampire.  And the characters are delicious, especially Sophronia.  My only minor criticism had to do with the plot.  It was very simple and perhaps not robust enough for a full length book.  The middle felt just a little slow as a result.  Sophronia was delightful throughout and I very much enjoyed her Harry Potter-like introduction to her mysterious floating school, unusual professors with names like Professor Braithwope, the group of other students, and the secrets surround all of them.  In fact, the whole book has a very Harry Potter feel to it,  if the series had focused on Hermione instead of Harry and revolved around steampunk instead of magic.

Peppered with fun Easter eggs for those who have read The Parasol Protectorate series (like the fact that Sophronia is the little sister of a main character), fairly bursting with dirigibles, mechancles, and all manner of steampunk gadgets, along with a thorough appreciation for a proper cup of tea.  ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE is just as charming, just as witty, and just as delightful as the other books set in this world.  I’m froth with anticipation waiting for next book in the Finishing School series, CURTSIES & CONSPIRACIES, which will be published in November 203.


  1. Etiquette & Espionage
  2. Curtsies & Conspiracies

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6 Responses to “Release Day Review: Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger”

  1. Alexa

    Now I can’t wait to read this one. I love Harry Potterish stories so I can’t wait to see what this one has. Plus I have never read a steampunk book so I think I need to fix that.

    Thanks for the great review, glad you enjoyed the book. 🙂

  2. Stephanie Scott

    She’s one of the authors I’m really glad has crossed over to YA (I can’t say the same for every author trying this angle, sadly) because I think her Parasol series will translate well, especially for fans of the Clockwork Prince books by Cassandra Clare.

    • Abigail

      Yes, it does translate very well to YA. This world is so engrossing regardless of the age of the protagonist.

  3. Stéphanie

    I’m so buying this today. Thanks for your input. I really appreciated your candid thoughts on the book. As a huge fan of Harry Potter, I can’t wait to see how it will compare.