By: Melanie | May 4, 2013 | (20) Comments

Title: Etiquette & Espionage
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Atom Hachette
Genre: YA, steampunk, fantasy 
Series: Finishing School #1
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Pages: 312 (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Borrowed it

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 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. Temminick 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 they 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.

‘”Practice your eyelash-fluttering, ladies. Six rounds of one hundred each before bed.”-‘

I took the big mistake when I read Marie Lu being quoted on my copy of Etiquette & Espionage. “I wish I could attend a school as fun as this finishing academy. It is the perfect steam punk version of Harry Potter.” After observing this, I assumed that the book was just as good as Harry Potter. RIIIGHT?! It literally has my name written all over it.


NO. I was wrong. The prequel the Gail Carriger’s adult series (which I haven’t read), is based upon a finishing school that teaches more than just etiquette, but also some espionage that of course, must be executed in a lady like manner.
When 14 year old Sophronia is washed off to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, she finds that it wasn’t exactly what her mother has been hoping for. Yes, the finishing school does teach some proper manners, but there are secrets hidden that even the headmistress may not be aware of.

Our main character, Sophronia is a very queer one to analyse. In fact, she reminds me a little of Sara Crewe from A Little Princess. She was reserved, kind and held a slight tinge of humour to her that made Sophronia less ‘Victorian’ like. After all, she at the beginning does get Indian rubber of her shoes from playing in the dumbwaiter. Yet also, Sophronia seemed a little unstable; her character was shaky, sometimes, it was difficult to pin point exactly whether I liked her or not. Nonetheless, she was predominately likeable.

The problem of Etiquette & Espionage was, and why it made everything horrible, was the lack of activity and motion. With the addition of unique/olden writing style that took sometime to adjust then love, I felt distant and reluctant to continue on each page. There was no plot. As much as I wanted to admire Gail’s story, the synopsis at the back of the book did not match with the novel itself. Moreover, even at the tiny excepts of engagement, it was uneven. Rather bumpy to be exact. Smoothing down the writing would have been of great benefit for Etiquette & Espionage.

Like I mentioned before, the bumpiness of the attention span ruined the other aspects that I would’ve usually appreciated. I predict some sort of love interest brewing in the second instalment but, like two of my Goodreads friends mentioned, it made this book completely dead. To be honest, I classily this book as MG. the character is in her middle grade levels and the romance was minimal. And occasionally, I appreciate that. But with no action or suspense flowing through, I yearned for some romance to pop up. Sadly, none did making me want to dose off more and more. *sighs*

For my first book by Gail Carriger, I am utmost disappointed. Though I hear her adult series is much better so I will consider reading that instead. A mix of steampunk, history and paranormal fiction, Gail failed to impress with her cover and entrapping blurb. While I won’t recommend this, I will stick around for book two!

(ACTUAL: 2.5)


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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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20 Responses to Etiquette & Espionage By Gail Carriger

  1. Amelia K says:

    Oh no…. I’m like a HUGE fan of her adult series (I risk not writing the actual series title as I’ll probs get it wrong) but yeah… Not even going to read this one now. It’s such a bum because I had such high hopes from looking at the cover and blurb. :/

    Like I said on GR, I love your defaced cover. Very ingenious ^.<

  2. Ben McMann says:

    I’ve heard mixed thoughts on Etiquette and Espionage. I was really thinking that you were going to love it- turns out I was wrong :/ I still think you should try reading the adult series. My wife read them and she said it was really well crafted. Hope it gets better! Sophronia sounds pretty promising, looks like it’s just the writing and plot….

  3. Anonymous says:

    It reminded you of Sara Crewe? I AM READING THIS. Wait, you no likies? Bum… WHAT AM I S’POSED TO DO NOW?!? Stuff you chicka…

    Well written review, Mel. Despite your dislike towards this, I think I may try as the cover is literally calling to me. I do hope it won’t get boring! *fingers crossed*

    • Melanie says:

      Hehe 🙂 Sara Crewe is the best!!!

    • Lynn says:

      immr diese gut gemeinten ralsrhtäge,gcinsich kenn das,als mein bubi, heute 6, noch alle flaschen ausräumte und die katzen damit baden wollte:-)s c h r e c k l i c h

    • you’re probably in the middle of a huge child custody battle. My heart goes out to you. I know how tough that can be.first thing you have to do is prove to the court that hes not a good father..all that a child want to be away from is drugs..i advice you to consult a good child custody expert who can get you out of this..all the very best dear…

    • http://www./ says:

      Hello beautiful. I just discovered your blog. It's great I like is very stylish and you are very pretty 🙂 You have a new follower. I invite you to know my blog. I hope your visit;) A big hug.

    • http://www./ says:

      Good to hear that you are still safe! & that you at least got some sunshine. I seriously hope the storms do pass you soon, so you can get yourself back into a normal routine once again!

    • http://www./ says:

      Salut Capucine !Alors moi, ce truc me fait rêver, tout simplement parce que je suis étudiante sage-femme, et de ce fait je fais souvent des gardes de 12h à l’hôpital, de jour comme de nuit. Et passer 12h à courir partout, ou en étant statique debout, sans jamais pouvoir se poser sur une chaise plus de 30 secondes, c’est dur (même avec des super crocs trop confortables)… Quand je rentre, j’ai mal aux jambes en marchant tellement c’est lourd… C’est pour ça que je testerai bien cette petite merveille ;-)Bisous

    • http://www./ says:

      That’s a genuinely impressive answer.

  4. Stephanie B says:

    Aw, that’s too bad. I have to admit though, this book has one rockin’ cover.

  5. I’ve heard so much about this author and her previous series, but not so much about this one. It doesn’t sound like the best book, sorry you didn’t enjoy it, it can be hard when there’s little to no plot.

  6. Sam says:

    So sorry that this didn’t impress you… but I love your review! Like always, so much fun to read. 🙂 This hasn’t been getting the best feedback, so I don’t think I’ll be picking it up any time soon. Thanks for your honest thoughts!

  7. I agree with you, this was nothing like I expected. The lack of an actual plot killed this book for me, and even Carriger’s famous sense of humor just didn’t work in this case. Her plotting was never something to write home about, but it was never this bad either.
    ah, well. Sorry we both wasted our time.

  8. You’re talking to a lifelong die-hard NBA fan who knows all that too What are you trying to say? I’m not denying his work ethic but he would have never gotten a chance to do all what he did *without* talent in the first My point is that work ethic isn’t always on par with Without talent/genetics, even if you put in 2x the work MJ did, you never will jump as high or move as well as That’s just

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