Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sophronia Temminick is shipped off to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality as a covert recruit--meaning neither she nor her family know it's actually a training academy for lady spies. Sophronia becomes suspicious during the journey to the floating school when their carriage is ambushed by flywaymen intent on stealing a mysterious "prototype" from Mademoiselle Geraldine...who turns out not to be the headmistress after all.
Sophronia's natural inquisitiveness and propensity for sneaking, er, exploring, lead her to make friends in unusual places--always useful when one wants to gather information and thwart nefarious plots. With help from her roommate, Dimity, a few of her fellow first-year students, and her friends Soap and Vieve, Sophronia discovers a demoted classmate knows more than she should about the missing device, and they collaborate to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
Carriger does a fantastic job of world-building, bringing to life a Victorian England where servants are mechanical, vampires and werewolves can be teachers, and a school can float courtesy of massive coal-fired boilers. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Sophronia's universe, and I look forward to the rest of the series. I will have to check out Carriger's adult series, now that I know this is a YA spinoff of that one.
For readers' advisors: setting doorway is primary, story is secondary, as the plot doesn't really ramp up until later in the book. No sex or bad language.
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