Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Title:     Curtsies & Conspiracies [Finishing School, book 2]
Author:   Gail Carriger
Rating:   ★★★1/2

As you may know by now, I love a good book with a kick-ass female protagonist, and the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger has definitely caught my fancy.

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?

Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy (won't Mumsy be surprised?). Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers' quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship's boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot--one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

I love the concept of a finishing school set in the 1800s that, alongside turning the girls into proper ladies for marriageable quali-tay, they are also being taught how to kill someone in so many different ways. In school, they learn how to finish well...and finish someone off. And they all have to do it while being a lady. For example, how do you attract your target by fluttering your eyelashes? How do you flirt to encourage, or flirt to dissuade? How do you kill someone imperceptibly? And they all have to do it while keeping their espionage and skills training a secret from the headmistress Mademoiselle Geraldine herself! While I do not have fantasies to become a trained assassin, and I do not condone killing, well, it's pretty funny for me to imagine such a school like that. And if I do get to attend such a school, I'd go there for, you know, self-protection (I swear!).

Sophronia Temminick has improved since her first year at the Academy, and in this book, she is shown to have the highest marks in a certain test, which means she shows great aptitude to be cut out for, well, espionage. I like that she's so brave and still so loyal to her friends, and how completely unaware she is about her effect on boys. She gets her palm read, and the "reading" is so interesting. You have to read it for yourself, but it has definitely amped my excitement for the next two books in the series!

I first thought that the Finishing School series is just mild, but Curtsies and Conspiracies takes a darker turn, and one that I never expected Sophronia to do. But I guess she will be doing that and so much more if she does finish school and on to become a female intelligencer.

I'm not very familiar with steampunk yet, although I've read several books already, so the technological 'advancements' described in the book were hard for me to truly imagine. I feel like I have to research the things so I can fully be immersed in the book, because I like seeing the things described in the book in my mind's eye as I read along.

I am truly liking the way Gail Carriger writes in the Finishing School series. Curtsies & Conspiracies is heavily laden with ironies and dry wit, which really adds value to the story. Plus, I marvel at how Carriger has this whole world cooked up, and all the little female things that can be used to kill someone.

If you want to get a feel for the series, I suggest you visit the Finishing School website, which has a lot of fun tips such as how to faint properly, manage your household expenses and calculate the needed amount of poison to kill someone, how to kill a vampire, and how to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. At the moment, I am trying to divide my attention between blogging and reading the tips. A lady must know how to do both things well, of course.

If you're into YA, steampunk, kick-ass female protagonists, great friendship between characters, and a titillating hint of romance, Curtsies & Conspiracies is out now for your enjoyment. (In the Philippines, I got mine from National Bookstore, and Lucy of Fullybooked tells me they also have copies in stock already).

Ciao, ladies and gents.


  1. Glad you liked this one! I'm gonna start the first book in this series, super excited

  2. I remember seeing this book in various Stacking the Shelves posts but it never pulled me. Had I known that it's about a weird school for training female assassins, I would have rushed in buying it.

    Fine, you really got checking the GR ratings of the first two books for a second opinion. And they are really promising. I always love my books when they have bad ass characters and dynamic relationships.

    Great review, Goldie! :D


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