Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

The Basics:
Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Book Three in the Finishing School series.
Steampunk, YA
Published November 4, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon Kobo Goodreads

Why I picked up this book:

Gail Carriger. Love love love.


Class is back in session...
Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what--or who--they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all. 

Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine's proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger.

My thoughts:

Full disclosure - I'm a complete Gail Carriger fangirl. The Parasol Protectorate series is the first steampunk series I ever read, and I adored it. The Finishing School series has absolutely lived up to my expectations. Needless to say, I dove on my copy of Waistcoats & Weaponry with much enthusiasm.

I devoured this book from start to finish forgetting that I had to write a review of it. I *loved* it. I laughed, I shook my head at the antics and I *bawled* at one point. Huge, gasping, sobs. 

In addition to all the emotions, there are a few things I really loved about this book. First and foremost, the writing. There's a certain cheeky logic to the series, its emphasis on Victorian morals alongside the rules and modes of subterfuge. It's all delivered with such seriousness and as though the reader is clearly in the know about it that you cannot help but play again.

The set pieces here are as exquisite as ever. The finishing school itself is a wonder in the air, a floating contraption so ridiculous and yet perfectly suited for its purpose. There's a bit more travel involved as we get to spend a lot of time on the ground, but most of this is bound up in a train - and so we never leave behind the intimacy that the usual school setting provides. 

Pacing is perfect - doses of action, espionage and feats of derring-do keep the story moving along. Sophronia, who is in peak form, provides moments of poignant, quiet reflection on the trials and tribulations of growing up, finishing well, and the maturing of friendships. I adore this character, the lengths to which she is willing and able to go, and the manner in which she carries herself through it all.

Not much Vieve here, for fans of the wee inventor, but other favorite secondary characters have plenty of screen time - particularly Soap, Dimity and Lord Mersey as well as the intrepid Bumbersnoot (can a mechanical be considered intrepid?).

Bottom line:

Fans of the series will love Waistcoats & Weaponry, and if you haven't tried the series yet, I strongly, strongly recommend picking up the first book - Etiquette & Espionage and catching up!

5 stars
For fans of steampunk, YA, vampires and werewolves bound by Victorian morals.

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