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Gail Carriger – Waistcoats & Weaponry

January 5, 2015

96. Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger (2014)
Finishing School, Book 3

Read my review of book:
1. Etiquette & Espionage
2. Curtsies & Conspiracies

Length: 304 pages
Genre: Historical Fantasy

Started: 09 December 2014
Finished: 13 December 2014

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? New book in the series!

All aboard! This train
is bound non-stop for Trouble,
with a stop at Peril!

Summary: Sophronia is continuing her studies at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy, the floating airship school for training young ladies into the highest caliber of intelligencers. But although she excels at lessons like fighting with steel-bladed fans, there’s so much else going on in Sophronia’s life that it’s sometimes hard to focus on her school work. Particularly now that she has multiple young men in her life that seem to have amorous intentions. There’s the charming and flirtatious Lord Felix Mersey, who’s certainly an eligible catch – or would be, if his father weren’t high in the order of the potentially treasonous Picklemen. He stands at a stark contrast to Soap, Sophronia’s loyal sootie friend, who understands her adventurous ways but is far beneath her social station. When Sophronia’s friend Sidheag receives bad news from home, she’s desperate to return to Scotland, so the two of them, along with their friend Dimity, Felix, and Soap, abscond from a party and stow away aboard a seemingly empty train headed in the right direction. But what they find on the train shocks them all, and they may be the only chance England has to prevent disaster.

Review: While I continue to have fun with these books, this one didn’t seem quite as strong as previous installments. Part of this is likely because I really like boarding school stories, and Sophronia’s classes and sneaking around the school are always some of the more interesting parts of these books, but they’re only a minor element in this installment, as most of the book is spent on the ground. And while I liked the fact that Sophronia’s relationships with the two boys in her life is becoming more complicated, and thought that both relationships were handled really well, this book spent a *lot* of time on that element of the story, with an unfortunate shift away from the more witty banter that characterized previous books towards a more serious tone. I also thought that the book lost a bit of its momentum – while I certainly stayed engaged while reading, in retrospect, not that much actually happens plot-wise, leaving me to wonder where the intervening pages went. So, in general, while this book was still fun, and still a fast read, and still had interesting characters and a cool setting and appropriate amounts of silliness, it seems to have lost some of the spark that has made Carriger’s other books so lively. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I’m enjoying the series, but if you like steampunk novels with a medium-high absurdity quotient and haven’t read these yet, I’d actually recommend waiting until next year when the final book is published; there’s a fair bit of McGuffin-y technobabble to the plot that I think the series would best be read without long gaps in between.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

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First Line: “Funambulist,” said Sophronia Temminnick, quite suddenly.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • p. 1: “Funambulist,” said Sophronia Temminnick, quite suddenly.” – a tightrope walker.
  • p. 52: “While they nibbled a meal of baked cod, boiled aitchbone of beef, carrots, turnips, and suet dumplings, Sophronia thought hard on which would be worse for Sidheag: being found missing on her own or having it known she was alone with a werewolf.” – The cut of beef containing the rump bone.
  • p. 214: “And seemed quite delighted to find the train apparently under the command of a scrappy band of larrikin boys.” – A person given to comical or outlandish behavior.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2015 9:43 am

    I love the covers on the books in that series but don’t think the books are for me.

  2. January 5, 2015 10:24 pm

    I love this series. Sophronia cracks me up. The whole school makes me laugh. I agree that this was not the best one as far as showing the school, but I thought it was a lot of fun to see Sophronia grow up a bit emotionally. I cannot wait to see how this whole series ends.

  3. January 7, 2015 9:42 am

    I am actually quite bummed by this one. I loved the first, liked the second and this one – mostly I thought that it was boring. There just wasn’t much going on until the last quarter of the book and rather then seeing more of the wider world, everything shrank. It was weird. I still want to read the last one, but now I am worried that the series isn’t going to resolve well. All the coolest stuff seems to be falling away.

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