Series: Finishing School #3
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on November 4th, 2014
Genres: Steampunk, Young Adult
Sexual Content: NA
Reviewed by: Megan
Class is back in session...
Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what--or who--they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.
Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine's proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger.
If you missed Sophronia Temminick's Finishing School adventures as much as I did, you'll love Gail Carriger's latest trip to Madamoiselle Geraldine's and the lessons in proper spycraft within the pages of WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY. The wider supernatural world closes in on Sophronia and her friends as the werewolf drama that sets the events of Carriger's Parasol Protectorate into motion happens while the ladies are learning the art of the bladed fan. With her friend Sidheag personally affected by pack dynamics, Sophronia has no choice but to get involved herself. It's always a delight to go back to school with Carriger, though, like Sophronia's first outing, WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY feels more like a stepping stone in a larger story than its own novel.
No less clever or entertaining than the first two books in the series, WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY is a little lighter on plot than I've come to expect from Carriger. The crux of the narrative actually focuses on Sidheag, Lady Maccon, and her desperation to get back to the Scottish werewolf pack that raised her, after her grandfather - and pack Alpha - leaves the family due to treachery in the ranks. While the supernatural drama is a thrill for readers who followed the Parasol Protectorate adventures first, Sophronia's books have tended to have more of a focus on the threat of new technology and the way that power is constantly switching hands. That element of this particular plot seemed to be tagged onto the larger supernatural story, rather than something built into the start.
What's nice about Sophronia's involvement in returning Sidheag to her pack is that it comes from something personal. Often when Sophronia interferes with the technical MacGuffin of a story, it's due her need to prove how clever she is, or simply because it crosses her path, as it does in this book. The plots pack more punch when they drag Sophronia's emotions into the mix - which is why the mystery of the high-tech train matters even less when the life of one of Sophronia's friends is in danger, and it's the werewolves who have a potential save.
The train and its powerful, chaos-inducing cargo might fill in the plot, but it's definitely not what this Finishing School installment is about. Of course, with Carriger's arch sense of humor, fantastic imagination, and, of course, Bumbersnoot the mechanical dog, it doesn't really matter if WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY seems like a chapter of something larger, rather than something that stands on its own. You'll laugh, you'll cheer, you'll cry, and you might even learn a thing or two.Series Titles: