Blogging, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Steampunk, Victorian England, YA, Young Adult

Review: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger (Finishing School: Book The First)

That cover though <3
That cover though ❤

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. Temminnick 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 the 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.


With GoodReads at our fingertips, it’s a rarity for any bookworm to buy a book online without at least looking at the blurb and some reviews on it. This book was an exception.

I was spending my time online, like I always do, browsing books to buy on Amazon (don’t laugh cause I know you do the same :P) so when I came across this book, there were two things that made me buy it:

1. The title itself – A more ironic title I haven’t seen. Plus the cover is honestly very pretty! (Cover snobbery rears it head)

2. The description at the back clinched the deal. Don’t believe me? Read this and tell me you aren’t intrigued 😀

Now this one thing, I would love to learn ;)
Now this one thing, I would love to learn 😉

Now tell me honestly that you would never have been interested in picking up this book!

I was in need of book that would make me recently, so I picked up this one from my never ending TBR pile. And boy, was I glad! 

The book introduces Sophronia (I like that name!) when she is apparently indulging in her usual sheshenanigansich includes of course trying to spy on everyone and thus destroying most of her house. She is a curious child (yup, she is only 14 years old!) and more interested in machines and climbing tress than she is in  dresses, or etiquettes making her the bane of her mother’s and sister’s existence.

One last mishap leads to her mother finally giving and sending her to a ‘finishing school’to become a proper lady! 

This book was quite fun to read. Especially, since I needed a funny book to distract me from real life. This book was enjoyable and had me laughing in fits, because it was peppered with such beautiful advices for young ladies like –

“A lady does not shoot first. A day – remember it well – asks questions first. Then she shoots.”


“It’s no good choosing your first husband from a school of evil geniuses. They’re much too difficult to kill.”

How can you not laugh at this kind of advice (advice, I am pretty sure we would all be using, if only it wasn’t illegal :P)

Sophronia as acharacter was easy to like. She was courageous, sassy and definitely spunky, yet I could not get myself to relate to her, maybe it was her age (she is 14 years old in this book) or maybe because there were no complexities to her character (kind of hard to be complex, when you are just only starting out!)

This series also had elements of steampunk and supernatural to it (Soph has a mechanical dog named Bumblesnoot. Yup, I just got a name for my future dog :D). But the supernatural aspect was still a surprise though, yet not unwelcome. Vampires and werewolves in open especially with the little tidbit that the werewolves are required by law to be a part of the Queen’s army (I am so glad this isn’t actual;y true. It would have been a lot harder to actually win our freedom otherwise :P)

The dialogue was sardonic and the humor dry! The writing was amazingly Victorian and action wonderfully imaginative.

Definitely not my edit 🙂

Even with all the things going for this book, I still will give it a 3 Star Rating, only because this book was more focused on action rather than character development. It was a fun read for a slow day, but not for more than once. And that is such a sad fact, honestly. This book had everything going for it! From Victorian era, to steampunk theme, to young ladies being trained as assasins, to vampires and werewolves!! Yet, it couldn’t be worth more than one time read.

This could have easily been a stand alone novel, not just as series. Because this series, well at least this book, was only a single adventure. Yes, you would need to read this one if you want to be familiar with the characters but otherwise each one definitely could be a stand alone novel.

I really was disappointed with this one. I was looking forward to enjoying a good steampunk novel, and while I laughed at some points, this really was just too simplistic for me to be absolutely in love with it!

I will get the rest of the books in this series, but it won’t be a priority though. Maybe one day when I have extra money to spend. I will. Just not immediately and that is a sad sad thing.


3/5 Stars

(Only for some of the funniest dialogues and advices I have read in a long time)


I would only recommend this book for a light read. This book is for those times, when you just can’t get into reading and that’s irritating you, so this book can give you a jump start on it!

It’s also for those who like a little steampunk  with a little Victorian Era style ladies in your novels. Also if love the idea of those Victorian ladies being assasins.

Also, bumblesnoot was my favourite character.



3 thoughts on “Review: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger (Finishing School: Book The First)”

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