Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

A review by Nalini Haynes

Curtsies and Conspiracies is the second in the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger. This is a prequel series to the Parasol Protectorate series, featuring some of the same characters twenty years younger. The first in the Finish School series is Etiquette & Espionage.

Sophronia has settled in to this most unusual finishing school for young ladies, learning how to poison, flirt with, run away from and enchant the opposite sex.

Mid-year exams are most unusual – including the possibility of being poisoned – then Sophronia, with the highest-ever grades for first year mid-year exams, is shunned by her friends. Dimity, Sophronia’s best friend seems to be the target of a kidnapping attempt. Although estranged, Sophronia endeavours to protect her erstwhile friend.

I don’t want to say too much about the novel other than ‘just read it’ but I must admit that part of the resolution of the climax included an impossible feat of petticoats. This was a trifle disappointing.

The development of steampunk science – particularly that of mechanical servants – is not nearly as pronounced in the Parasol Protectorate series. I enjoy the added steampunk aesthetic in the Finishing School series plus I love the introduction of some of my favourite Parasol Protectorate characters.

Curtsies and Conspiracies is steampunk meets Pride and Prejudice at high school. I’m thoroughly enjoying this series and highly recommend it.