This is the 4th and final book in Carriger’s Finishing School Series. So this is in a way a prequel series to the Parasol Protectorate, as timeline wise it is earlier in the same world, just as The Parasol Protectorate is a prequel to the The Custard Protocol series. And if you haven’t read either of those, you can absolutely start with this series even though Parasol Protectorate came out first. Just not with this book. This series needs to be read in order to make sense. But it is a fun, and mannerly steampunk world that I enjoy very much.
So since this is the series finale, let me introduce how the series starts:
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 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.
See? Adorable. I had to have it. And subsequent books deal with Sophronia growing up, as a lady who finishes…everything. I think I was on to something previously when I posited that New Adult really only works well for me when it isn’t contemporary. Plus, the covers are simply gorgeous. But now we are in Sophronia’s final adventure.
Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine’s floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia’s sweet sootie Soap nearby. She would much rather be using her skills to thwart the dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored, and now she’s not sure whom to trust. What does the brusque werewolf dewan know? On whose side is the ever-stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition, Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster—in decidedly dramatic fashion, of course.
What will become of our proper young heroine when she puts her years of training to the test? Find out in this highly anticipated and thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Finishing School series!
And I’ll admit to having some trepidation over how everything would be wrapped up. But I was soon sucked back into this world where espionage is the rule, disguises are de rigueur, etiquette is cutting (both figuratively and literally) and where plot-pets are delightfully mechanical.
It is oh so bittersweet to find everything finished. There isn’t much I can relate regarding the plot, besides the the aforementioned general description about the genre mashup and the book blurb, without spoiling either this book or previous ones in the series.
So I guess I’ll focus on Sophronia, a lady I enjoy tremendously. She’s intrepid, resourceful, and smart. It has been a delight following her adventures in this madcap steam punk world. I can’t say how much I enjoyed this final adventure focusing on her, and her growth, rather than so much on her feelings for boys. Don’t get me wrong, we get a satisfactory happily ever after, but that wasn’t what this book was about.
I wish I could find more steam punk or gas lamp stories like these, Meljean Brook‘s, or Cindy Spencer Pape‘s. So I highly recommend this series for lovers of those genres, whether they like new adult fiction or not. I also recommend it for those who enjoy new adult, so long as they don’t strenuously object to steamp punk/gas lamp. And if you are a new adult fan who wants to dip their toes in steam punk, this is probably the place to start. It is also an appropriate selection for teens, there isn’t a thing a parent would object to, that would simply be unmannerly.
And as an aside, one of the things that fascinates me is how very much I now want to go back and reread The Parasol Protectorate and look for all the tiny little linkages. That series is completely unneeded for this series, nor is this one needed for P.P., but for people who are interested in both, the little connections are just so fascinating. It is excellent world building in my opinion.