by Gail Carriger
This was a cute, super fun YA steampunk. Sophronia is a mess and a bunch of trouble to her poor mother. Before she knows it, she is shipped off to finishing school to clean up her act and become more of a lady. What neither of them realize is that this is a finishing school for spies. Ooh yes! All of her sneaking about and getting into trouble will actually pay off, they are going to teach her to do it but while looking fashionable.
So this is a younger YA book. Sophronia is 14 and it is during Victorian times, so there is an innocence there. While there are vampires and werewolves and such, the influence of those types is minimal, but they do exist. I wonder if this is the same world as Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, it seems to be but I have only read one of those so I am unsure. The whole book is cute and “affected”. Instead of book one, it is “book the first” and if there is a wonky way of saying something, Carriger does reviving words like reticule instead of bag.
She looked around, “Anyone know how to pick a lock?” “Some intelligencer you are,” complained Pillover. “I’ve only been here a month! I can curtsy now, and my eyelash fluttering is practically unparalleled.” “Well, why not flutter your way into the locked room, then?” (pg 190)
It is a fun clash of feminine wiles and spy stuff. As it is a school, the kids are away from home and have to deal with teachers and rules to keep the bunch safe. There is another external mystery going on as well, so they are attacked by flywaymen here and there to keep things exciting. While there isn’t as much detail as a Harry Potter or something like it, there is a bunch of crazy steampunk stuff with the school, mechanical maids and mechanimals and sooties who shovel the coal. They live in a huge floating boat with multiple levels and different tricksy pieces. It is quite cool.
I liked this book, it was an easy and fast read and I didn’t ever feel like putting it down. Four pieces of coal that have burned down, are star shaped and still heat water for steam.