Curtsies and Conspiracies is the second book in the Finishing School series and, like the first, a mix of steampunk, humor, and adventure, now with a little light romance thrown in (somewhat to Sophronia’s dismay). Back at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality after attending her sister’s coming out ball, Sophronia Temminneck has to take her six-month exams, figure out who is trying to kidnap her best friend, Dimity, and why, protect Dimity, help her young friend Vieve get into the boy’s school for evil geniuses without anyone learning that Vieve is really Genevieve, and figure out the power struggle around the prototype she recovered in Etiquette & Espionage, all while continuing her regular studies at the academy. On top of this, a number of boys from Bunson boy’s school for evil geniuses are visiting the academy, her friends are not speaking to her, there is a fortune teller on board, and she is starting to suspect that her friend Soap wants more than just the simple, uncomplicated friendship she wants. All in all, it is a busy time at the finishing school. Fortunately, Sophronia enjoys being busy.
Carriger continues to write a humorous, enjoyable tale. There are moments when Sophronia’s excellence grates—particularly when the narrator steps in to tell us about the beauty she does not realize she possesses—but overall, Curtsies & Conspiracies is a strong sequel. With possible career tracks including “evil genius” (for men only), a school that is held on board a dirigible, and a teacher who “could be rather fatalistic at times; it was why she made such a good poisoning instructor,” the series invites readers to laugh while enjoying the suspense.
While it has a fairly self-contained plot, Curtsies & Conspiracies is better read after is a sequel to Etiquette and Espionage . Readers who opt to start with the second book will miss out on some establishing character moments and will have to be sharp picking up elements that were first developed there.
Recommended for those who enjoy reading steampunk mixed with mystery and adventure and for anyone who enjoyed the first book.
Curtsies and Conspiracies is out now in hardcover and will be available in trade paperback on October 7, 2014.
Published November 2013
Publisher: Hachette Little, Brown & Co
ISBN 031619011X (ISBN13: 9780316190114)