Release Date ~ February 5, 2013
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers ~ Hachette Book Group
ARC received from HBG Canada for review
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 yet to read Gail Carriger's The Parasol Protectorate series but I was very curious to see what her spin-off series for teens would be like. Etiquette & Espionage ended up being an intriguing read by the end, although I wasn't too sure about it for the first half.
- An endearing adventure:
By the end of the book, I was quite taken in with this fun little story. The characters and world charmed me, with their quirks and fascinating little details. I liked Sophronia's spunky, tomboy personality and how she finds a way to apply herself to her learning... in her own unique way. I love that the characters in this story are a little bit different and very normal - perfect for readers to relate to.
While the book ended up being a lot of fun for me, it took me a while to come around and appreciate it. I don't think this spin-off series is the best place to start for those who haven't read The Parasol Protectorate series. I felt very lost and confused at first, because the world was so unfamiliar as was the language used. I needed more explanation and it just wasn't there, so the world felt disappointingly underdeveloped to me.
But at the same time, for much of the book Etiquette & Espionage felt more like a middle grade read as opposed to a young adult book. Sophronia is 14 in the book, and while I think this would be a great book for many middle grade readers I'm not sure it has much crossover appeal for those who liked Gail's adult series. The book felt very young at first, although by the end it seemed to venture closer to standard YA territory.
That being said, I enjoyed Etiquette & Espionage even if it wasn't quite what I was expecting. By the end I felt like I had found my rhythm with this book so that I had a better sense of the world structure.