I adored Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series and was absolutely thrilled to find that the new Finishing School series is set in the same universe. Ms. Carriger's sense of the ridiculous remains as finely honed as her sense of suspense, and the mystery is wrapped in absurdity with lovely doses of both sarcasm and comestibles thrown in.
Chronologically, this series is a prequel to the Parasol Protectorate series, and many of the adult characters there appear as teens or children in this story.
It was completely delightful to once again see characters with absurd names becoming enmeshed (sometimes literally) in kerfuffles of many varieties. The main character, Sophronia, is a spirited and independent young lady who is curious, fearless and oh, so funny. She is not afraid to take action to set things to rights, and has a gift for making friends and allies both high and low in the class-conscience Victorian society.
The finishing school is a treasure trove of steampunk devices of all kinds, and is itself a rather interesting bit of technology. Gail Carriger has come up with entirely new steam devices as well as giving the early developments in technology that is widely used during the Parasol Protectorate series.
The narrator had the same gift for sarcasm and melodrama as the previous series, but with a much younger voice that is perfect for Sophronia and company. She made the story an absolute joy to listen to and never jarred the reader out of story with mistakes or mispronunciations. This is a story that anyone would enjoy regardless of age, so do not let the young adult aspect dissuade you from listening to his story.
I can't wait for the next book, Curtsies & Conspiracies, due out in November 2013, which I hope will be Sophronia's next year at the Finishing School. And while I'm waiting I am going to listen to this one again to revel in all the finer details, and then listen to the Parasol Protectorate series (again, I never tire of it!) so I can stay a bit longer in this delightful world that Gail Carriger has created.
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