Home  |  Reviews  |  Vlogs  |  Interviews  |  Guest Posts  |  Fairy Tales  |  Jane Austen  |  Memes  |  Policies

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Review: Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger (blog tour)

"[Is] that wise? Having a mess of seedling evil geniuses falling in love with you willy-nilly? What if they feel spurned?"
"Ah, but in the interim, think of the lovely gifts they can make you. Monique bragged that one of her boys made her silver and wood hair sticks as anti-supernatural weapons. With amethyst inlay. And another made her an exploding wicker chicken."
"Goodness, what's that for?"
Dimity pursed her lips. "Who doesn't want an exploding wicker chicken?"

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Get It | Add It
Steampunk/Fantasy, 320 pages
Expected publication: February 5th 2013 by Little, Brown BYR
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

First in a four book YA series set 25 years before the Parasol Protectorate but in the same universe.

I have to say, I was equal parts excited and trepidatious* when my fave awesome person at Little, Brown asked me if I wanted to be part of the blog tour for this. I loved Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, but was concerned about how she would make the transition to YA, especially after my friend Elizabeth's reaction... That gave me pause. FORTUNATELY, I have to (politely, maybe) disagree with E. on this one. Yes, it was a little heavy handed at first, and was missing some of the magic that came with Alexia's narration and her fabulous personality - but it worked, and in the end I quite liked it.

I'm a pretty firm believer that you don't have to change your style/writing much (if at all) when you change age levels - there's no need to "write down" to kids (especially in this case, as the Parasol Protectorate series was a highly popular cross-over - Pretty much remove the steamy Victorian sexytimes and you're good to go).  But the beginning of the book seemed like Carriger was going to write down to her audience and point things out in a really obtrusive way (as if they couldn't possibly put things together all on their own...), and that has got to be my number one I-will-throw-you-against-the-wall-you-just-see-if-I-don't pet peeve. Even as a kid, I found it highly insulting; you've got to have faith in your audience, and faith in yourself as a storyteller that you're doing fine - you don't have to handhold, and if you do feel the need to, you're not telling it right.   But either the handholding was just a brief blip, or I got used to it, because the rest of the book slipped into the quirky, upper-crusty, hilariously Missish storytelling I'd grown to love in the Parasol Protectorate.

Etiquette & Espionage - much like the PP series, or Sorcery & Cecelia, and others of its kind - thrusts readers into a strange** world, very like ours and yet decidedly not, and then relies on an irrepressible but pragmatic narrator to guide the ship*** and draw readers along on a whisper of curiosity and charm. After Elizabeth's unfavorable reaction, I did something I generally don't do, which is look into reviews of a book right before I'm set to read it. (I don't want to be biased, so I typically avoid them - but I had to know if it was going to be a dud! I needed to brace myself if that was the case...) One of the complaints I saw most about this book was about the characters, actually - a lack of connection to them, a dislike for them, etc. And though I can see a tendency toward stockness about them, I didn't ever find myself disliking them - especially Sophronia and some of her more unlikely companions.  I loved her fearlessness-bordering-on-recklessness quite a bit, and her intelligence and composure, and I think she'd keep me entertained over the course of a series by dint of that alone. But beyond that, I found that the characters manage to be both well-suited to their AU Victorian England and to a modern audience looking for characters a little less demure and a little more spirited, and that's really all I could ask of them. I was curious, and I was charmed.

Etiquette & Espionage turned out to be a very fun, very YA-appropriate expansion of Carriger's world. Set earlier than PP, there are all sorts of little easter eggs for readers already familiar with the world (traditions, characters at a younger age, or before big events, etc.), which made it fun on a level that works without being obtrusive - readers who aren't familiar with the world won't feel confused or like they're missing anything, but will have bits of handy background should they choose to move on to the other series.  The world of Carriger's steampunky England is expanded in some ways by this spin-off, though I think for the most part, as it largely takes place in such a very insular location (a boarding school on a dirigible, for realsies), some readers may feel the lack of variation and be disappointed. Personally, I liked being able to explore a more confined world in depth, and on the few instances when they went offship, plenty of hijinks ensued to balance it out. Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality was a good starting point, not overwhelming the reader with the alternate universe, but providing a good foundation for it. And while I'm not panting for the next books, as I was with the first few of the Protectorate, I look forward to seeing where the world expands from Mlle. Geraldine's over the course of the series.

* Spellcheck needs to stop telling me "trepidatious" isn't a word. If the OED says it is, then it is.
**Both from a historical and a contemporary point of view
***I'mma just go ahead and mix all the metaphors I can, mmmkay?
[Please note: the opening quote is from the ARC of Etiquette & Espionage, and as such may be different in the finished version - or not there at all. Though I hope that isn't the case, as it tickled me immensely.]

Make sure you check out my awesome interview with Gail & enter to win a copy of Etiquette & Espionage here!!

Before I let you go, please to enjoy TEH TRAILER:


  1. I am so glad you didn't feel as if Gail was talking down to her readers. It may be meant for a younger audience, but teens don't need things spelled out for them! Definitely can't wait for this.

  2. I'm so excited for this. It's been such a long while since I've read a good steampunk book!

  3. this seems like an interesting book I haven't read the other series but the manga looks awesome!

  4. I love the trailer! So glad you enjoyed this one-I'm really looking forward to reading it!

  5. I hope they left in the quote you put at the beginning of your review. That's what convinced me to stick it on my to-read list. Why on earth wouldn't you want an exploding wicker chicken?

  6. The trailer for this book got me super excited! I can't wait to read it :)

  7. The title and cover alone won me over on this book! It has also made me want to read her adult series!!

  8. I really can't wait until I get a chance to read this book. It sounds like a great premise

  9. I'm glad to hear it manages to avert the hand holding, watered down prose. There really nothing is worse than an author thinking they need to scale back their writing style in order to be better suited to teens.

    It sounds utterly charming, like her first series. I can't wait to read it!

  10. I am really excited about this Thank you for the fun review.This saounds right up my alley! Annie

  11. Fabulous review!! I really adore Gail's books and CANNOT wait for another one to read. She creates such great worlds :)

  12. Oh, Misty, I’m so glad you enjoyed this! Like you, I’ve been a little nervous as to how well Carriger’s PP setting and style will transfer to a YA novel. It’s great to hear that the hand-holding etc., was kept to a minimum for the most part, as that undoubtedly drags down a novel quicker than anything. I’m definitely excited to get my hands on this!

  13. I love your review! I also did not feel the same disconnect with the characters other seem to have. I LOVED Sophronia. She completely charmed me!

    I need to read the Parasol Protectorate books now. I'm so glad I have those to turn to while we wait for another book in the series. Fabulous review! :-)

  14. this sounds exciting! i can't wait for it!

  15. The best place to hide a weapon??? Awesome review and giveaway!!!

  16. I trust your opinions so I am truely excited to read this. I haven't read PP yet but I do own them. Do you think I should read them first or go ahead with this book?

  17. Oh good! I was a bit worried that I'd need to read PP to understand this, which I haven't (yet. I'll get to it I promise!). But now that fear is allayed I can continue anxiously awaiting this :D

    I'm also relieved to hear this book doesn't talk down to its audience- that's been a problem in a bunch of the adult-writers-writing-ya-books I've come across recently :/

    Thanks for the review!

  18. I love the PP series and I too was worried about the switch to YA, however, I really enjoyed the 5 chapter sample on amazon. I can't wait to start this series!

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. I’m so excited to read this book! I’m a huge fan of Gail Carriger’s writing style.

  21. Sorry, Jessica, just saw your comment - yes, I think you can go ahead with this series. These are companion novels, and you can easily read one series without having read the other, though some things will seem less significant (not that it will matter much in the scheme of things.)


Tell me all your thoughts.
Let's be best friends.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...