Waistcoats and Weaponry finds Sophronia in her second year at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality where there is plenty to do. She is busy trying to figure out how to deal with having an insane vampire as a teacher, learning how to fight with bladed fans, and taking lessons in the art of seduction. There is also a ball to look forward to. Then her friend Sidheag gets worrying news about the werewolf pack that raised her, and it looks like the vampires and Picklemen are both up to something. Naturally, Sophronia and her friends investigate.
The girls are growing up, and their troubles are getting more complex. Waistcoats & Weaponry keeps the humor of the previous two books, but adds more complex relationships and plotting to the mix. The girls have to figure out what is making the mechanicals in people’s homes stop working to sing “Rule, Britannia!” They also have to help Sidheag save her pack from dissolution and are now old enough and trained enough to have some idea of the long-term consequences of their actions. Carriger takes her characters away from the school for the bulk of the book, allowing her readers to explore the world while opening new possibilities for intrigue and adventure. There is also the little matter of romance, raised in Curtsies & Conspiracies and moving more to the foreground here. This is the third book in what is to be a four book series, but there is no middle book sag here; everything that happens matters in the moment, even as it builds toward the final book in the series.
Sophronia remains slightly over-perfect here, with occasional praise for her looks coming from the narrator, which is slightly jarring since for the rest of the book readers know only what Sophronia does. Still, she is an enjoyable character to follow and is just blind enough to some of the emotional turmoil she is causing to keep her from being cloying, and her interactions with her friends read as real friendships with its troubles and pleasures. It is always good to read a book that takes the time to develop female friendships and to show people working with one another and complementing (and often also complimenting) one another’s strengths.
Waistcoats and Weaponry is the third book on the Finishing School series. While it stands as a satisfactory story in its own right, readers will be better off reading the first two books first as many of the relationships here are established earlier. Also, they’re good books.
Waistcoats and Weaponry comes out November 4, 2014.
Publication Date: November 4th 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0316190276 (ISBN-13: 978-0316190275)