Rating: 5/5 stars
Length: 310 pages
Series: Finishing School, Book 2
Genres: Young Adult, SciFi, Steampunk, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Historical
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests? (Ch. 1)
I’m in love. It’s as simple as that. Carriger has grabbed my heart in her hands and now has full control over my emotions. I’d yet to fall in love with a Steampunk world and I am absolutely infatuated with Sophronia and her antics. The incorporation of antiquated ideals about society mixed with exceptional technological advancements had me perched on the edge of my seat waiting to see what comes next.
There’s not much I can say without gushing over the specifics of the book, so this might very well be my shortest spoiler free section yet. All I can say is this: If you have not yet read Etiquette & Espionage, you’re missing out. I highly recommend picking this series up as it only gets better as you read through.
I must admit, I was staunchly against Felix at the beginning of this read, sitting firmly in Soap’s corner. Who needs a Pickleman-in-the-making when you have someone as amazing as Soap? Now, having finished the novel, I must admit that my heart is torn in two.
Of course I still love Soap, but one must think about the world in which the characters live. Would Sophronia be able to shrug off societal ideals (now that she’s firmly becoming a lady) in order to be with Soap? One’s standing in society didn’t matter one iota to Sophronia before coming to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, but she’s slowly changing into a lady who cares about such things – insomuch as it’d help her in her role as an intelligencer. Of course, they’ll always have their first kiss together, which I may or may not have swooned over a bit.
But then we have Felix. Sure he’s still a jerk some of the time – okay, most of the time – but he’s still willing to forgive Sophronia for the most grievous of errors in polite society many times over. Not only that, he’s willing to help her even after she snubs him for the umpteenth time. You have to admit, he grows on you! I mean, how else are you supposed to feel over the poor boy? Soap got a full on kiss on the mouth (downright scandalous for these times!) while poor Felix only got a peck on the cheek for good behaviour. Imagine what Sophronia will be capable of when she actually knows how to use her feminine wiles.
Though I do still adore Soap calling Sophronia his girl. And having the smarts to scurry off after the kiss before Sophronia collected herself. But then we have Felix and his adorable nickname of “Ria”. And his willingness to get Vieve into Bunson’s in order to find out even one of Sophronia’s secrets is adorable. Heck, admitting that he’s smitten with her after she’s put him through so much… Bother, I really am torn.
Oooookay, enough of the gushing. For Sophronia’s boys, at least. I do have to quickly mention Captain Niall. I do so hope that he tells Sidheag how he feels about her when she’s of age. They’d be the most adorable pair together. They get along swimmingly as it is, and I’m convinced that they have at least some feelings for each other more than just teacher and pupil. Though, of course, Sidheag is much too young at the moment for anything to happen.
Ahem, onto the plot of the story.
I do feel bad for Dimity that she was being used as a tool in the war between Picklemen, Flywaymen, the government, the vampires, and there werewolves. Though, I guess, I must admit that the werewolves weren’t active participants in this debacle. This time. If only she hadn’t been commanded to shun Sophronia, they might have been able to figure things out before Dimity and Pillover. Then again, if they’d figured who was behind everything before the kidnapping, Felix never would’ve gotten his chaste kiss, Soap never would’ve gotten his not so chaste kiss, and neither would’ve gotten the change to see Sophronia dressed as a dandy. Ahem, right, moving on from the love triangle.
Other than Felix, my favourite new character (yes, we briefly saw Felix in the first book but that doesn’t count!) has to be Madam Spetuna, of whatever her real name is. Top of her field, she seems to be, having successfully been able to sabotage a professor of Bunson’s without him realizing what she was doing. Evil geniuses the school might have, but they’re still boys and thus able to be manipulated by the “fairer” sex – even when they know what kind of school Mademoiselle Geraldine’s school is.
Madam Spetuna not only took Sophronia’s bribe, but she conned Sophronia out of poor Bumbernoot for weeks. Sure, Sophronia managed to get him back after only a few days, but the deal was still made. Other than Madam Spetuna, none of the adults – aside from maybe Professor Braithwope, and he doesn’t count since she was also keeping his secrets – were able to get the best of Sophronia. I certainly hope we see more of her in the future.
While I do feel bad for Professor Braithwope, it’s clear that his current predicament was in spite of Shrimpdittle’s meddling and not because of it. I certainly hope he feels better and that Sophronia doesn’t get blamed for what happened to him. If the teacher suspected anything from Sophronia about the situation I’d hope that they’d say something about it. Yet because of the kind of school it is, I can only imagine that they’re staying out of the way to see how things develop. For a school filled with spies, the teachers don’t seem to notice a lot of the goings on of their students.
Finally, I can’t help but touch on the letters that Sophronia got at the end of the novel. Even after everything – such as seeing Sophronia dressed as a man in (as Soap called them) exceedingly tight pants – Felix is still willing to try courting Sophronia. Sure she might have tried to put him in his place by being adamant that she wasn’t willing to give up her schooling for him. And sure she might have told him that she was only flirting with him for practice. But her actions belay how much she actually liked basking in his attention. I can’t wait to see more of Felix in this series.
Then, of course, we have Lord Akeldama’s letter that declared (once again) his intentions to court Sophronia. While not in the same way, it’s clear that he’d like Sophronia to work for him. He wasn’t even mad at the girl for using his name to sneak into the Westminster Hive. In fact, I’m certain that it pleased him that she even considered using his name to get her way. I look forward to seeing how he continues to try to woo Sophronia. After all, she does need a wealthy patron to allow her to be the best intelligencer there’s ever been.
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