Synopsis (from Goodreads)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.Sophronia Temminnick at 14 is a great trial more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners -- and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Her poor mother, desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady, enrolls the lively tomboy in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. But young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage -- in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.
I really enjoyed this book. It was light-hearted and fun, and a fairly easy read. I didn’t know that the book was steampunk when I started reading it so I did get a little bit of a surprise when there were mechanical waiters and dogs. I also got a little surprise with the addition of werewolves and vampires.
I really enjoyed the characters in this story. Sophronia was easy to like and not at all whiney. She could think on her feet and didn’t really care about social boundaries. I particularly like Soap and Vieve, because they didn’t belong to the world of the students but Sophronia still made friends with them. I think that the three made a perfect team for snooping and information gathering. I also particularly like Sidheag because she didn’t fit the mould of a Lady, as her title demanded. I also liked Dimity, even if she was annoying at times, because it was interesting to watch her mature and become a braver person. I liked that Monique was so easy to dislike and that it was fun to do so.
I liked the addition of werewolves and vampires, although there wasn’t quite enough of the two main supernaturals for my liking. I thought that it was interesting that werewolves could change any night they wanted to but they became uncontrollable and savage on full moons. I also liked the idea that all werewolves had to serve in the army. I thought that it was amusing that one of the best ways to escape a vampire was to spill tea on his clothing and that garlic mash made them sneeze.
I enjoyed the way that the etiquette training and the espionage training was quite often the same thing. For example, using handkerchiefs properly involved using them as a communication tool or to use it to discombobulate people. Another example, and this was possibly my favourite, is that being in full dress, with two petticoats, can help save you from a werewolf attack.
The only complaint I had with this book is that at times the overlying plot got lost in the midst of lessons. This made the story a little slow at times, particularly in the middle of the book. I also thought that the ending was maybe solved a little too quickly and neatly.
Overall, it was a great story and I really enjoyed it. I am looking forward to the release of the second book in November! I give this story 4/5 stars.
This book was read for the Take Control March 2013 reading challenge hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
Up next: Seven on Saturday – Favourite Novels.