HomeAll postsCurtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

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. If you haven’t yet started Carriger’s books, I recommend taking a peek at this page on her website. She explains her preferred reading order for books.

The backstory

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. And of course, her curtseys & conspiracies.

But wait, there’s more

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 endeavors to protect her erstwhile friend.

I don’t want to say too much about the novel other than ‘just read it’. However, I must admit that part of finale featured an impossible feat of petticoats. I think it was impossible but, in 2023, I’m not entirely sure.

Steampunk science

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 favorite 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.


Updated on 11 June 2023 to pander to SEO whims and to add that Gail Carriger features on this DMZ podcast, available at the link and on all good podcasting platforms.

Curtsies & Conspiracies cover: a Keira Knightley look-alike in Victorian garb holds an ornate dagger at her waist

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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