- Published: New York : Little, Brown, 2013.
- Year Published: 2013
- Edition: 1st ed.
- Description: 307 p.
- Language: English
- Format: Book
- Boarding schools -- Fiction.
- Etiquette -- Fiction.
- Espionage -- Fiction.
- Robots -- Fiction.
- Science fiction.
- Great Britain -- Fiction. -- History -- George VI, 1936-1952
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Etiquette & espionage
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Call number: Teen Fiction
In an alternate England of 1851, spirited fourteen-year-old Sophronia is enrolled in a finishing school where, she is suprised to learn, lessons include not only the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also diversion, deceit, and espionage.
Sophronia is a tomboy in an upper class rural family with numerous siblings. Sophronia is always taking things apart and figuring out puzzles, much to the dismay of her mother who hopes to turn Sophronia into a proper lady and get her married to a wealthy man.
Suddenly, the head of an upper class finishing school offers Sophronia a place among the students, so Sophronia's mother jumps at the chance. Of course, the family does not realize that this school does not just teach its students how to curtsey and flutter a fan. The school also teaches how to spy, how to kill, and how to get out of sticky situations. Its faculty even include a vampire and werewolf.
Of course, Sophronia discovers a deeper plot afoot and (SPOILER ALERT) saves the day. Among her friends is a worker of African descent. The novel does a good job of depicting the racism of the Victorian era without engaging in it. Like all of Gail Carriger's other novels, I highly recommend this one.
Although this was marketed as YA, I think it's fine for middle grade kids with an interest in steampunk or spunky heroines. I was a little bored and disappointed, it seemed like a mashup of Hogwarts and some generic feisty adolescent girl trope. The airships and the world were cool, I just wanted more from the characters somehow.
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