Monday, February 4, 2013

Review: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger 
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.


I have heard nothing but praise for Gail's adult novels (The Parasol Protectorate Series), but still have not got around to reading them. This will definitely be remedied after reading Etiquette and Espionage because it was such a great read. I have never read anything "steampunk" before, so Carriger's YA debut was my introduction to the genre. I loved how everything came together in the world Carriger has created and this is already one of the best books I have read this year. 

While Sophronia was only fourteen, I never felt like I was reading about someone that young. She was extremely mature and I loved her feistiness and sense of adventure. Sophronia is one of the youngest children in her family and her mother is constantly frustrated by her adventurous side. When Sophronia gets sent to Finishing School her life will never be the same. Because she is not only learning how to be a lady, but the fine arts of espionage as well. 

There is something that I especially love about books set at boarding schools and while they can sometimes be a hit or a miss, Etiquette and Espionage did everything right. While at first I was wondering if this would bring up inevitable comparisons to series like Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls books, this worry soon evaporated when I realized how different and original Carriger's new series was. Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality was such a great setting. It allowed Sophronia to meet a variety of new people and learn all sorts of things. I especially liked Dimity and Soap. Those were two friends who made a big impression on Sophronia and were always there for her through the good and bad.

The plot was extremely fun and filled with intrigue and adventure. Sophronia was never one to sit back and let others save the day and I loved that about her. She would do whatever she could to solve a mystery and learn the truth.

I thoroughly enjoyed Carriger's YA debut and cannot wait to see what is next for Sophronia and her friends. This was such a lighthearted and entertaining read and I loved everything about the world Gail Carriger has created. Steampunk is a new genre to me, but I'll definitely be searching for more steampunk books now because I so enjoyed Etiquette and Espionage.

Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars

February 5, 2013/Little, Brown BFYR/320 Pages/Young Adult (w/ MG appeal)/Book One

Source: Netgalley
Other books in this series: Curtsies and Conspiracies (Book Two/2013) 


  1. Okay, this book sounds awesome. Any book that can be described as "fun and filled with intrigue and adventure" immediately has me curious.

    Lovely review, Kelsey! :)

  2. I'm glad you like this, Kelsey! I definitely need to get to reading it soon. I also have the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series, so I need to get to that, too). I also haven't read steampunk, and haven't exactly had the best luck with it, but this one sounds incredibly original and fun. Great review!

  3. Boarding school, spies, AND steampunk? Sign me up! This looks so great, and I've also been meaning to read the Parasol Protectorate series, but haven't gotten around to it. Awesome review!

  4. I just found out that I won a copy of this and I am so looking forward to reading it. I enjoyed the first book in Carriger's adult series but anticipate loving this YA story even more since that's my category!

  5. Boarding school books! :D Sounds crazy good, and I really like the covers for some reason. I never noticed the pair of scissors in the girl's hand. Glad you enjoyed. I should try some of Carriger's books sometime!


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