Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger

A review by Nalini Haynes

Manners & Mutiny is Finishing School book 4, preceded by Etiquette & Espionage, Curtsies and Conspiracies and Waistcoats and Weaponry. Sophronia is back in the enormous dirigible school, floating over the moor and attending a ball with Bunson’s, the school for boys training to be evil geniuses. And that is just the beginning.

Each chapter is labeled a “crisis” up until “Crisis (No More)” and the Afterword, and with good reason. The trouble begins with the girls switching personalities at the ball as an assignment. While Sophronia pretends to be her friend Agatha hiding behind the potted plants, she meets her former beaux, Lord Felix Mersey, whom she hasn’t forgiven for betrayal. She also catches up with Vieve LeFoux who is masquerading as a boy to attend Bunson’s.

In Waistcoats & Weaponry, the Picklemen hijacked all Britain’s mechanicals in a dastardly scheme now referred to as the Opera Incident. Many people in the know are fearful that the Picklemen are still plotting to take over the country. This fear is exacerbated when the Picklemen replace valves in mechanicals around the country. The supernatural set — vampires and werewolves — oppose the mechanicals but this is seen as supernatural superiority and, perhaps, spite.

Former sooty, newly-made werewolf Soap appears to warn Sophronia and demand kisses in the nearly-full-moon light. Sophronia refuses him, worried about society’s view of their scandalous relationship but Soap wins his kisses when stress forces him to turn and Vieve tells Sophronia kisses will help Soap revert to human. Soap is much more forward and persistent in this novel, making Manners & Mutiny far more romantic. Although it has to be said that swinging around the dirigible while floating over the moor is hardly a fit occupation for a Victorian-era aspiring debutante. Nor is stuffing coal and notes between her breasts seemly but Sophronia’s gentlemen admirers don’t seem to mind and dresses without pockets give her little alternative.

Manners & Mutiny is another of Gail Carriger’s highly successful adventure comedy romance steampunk fantasy novels, concluding the Finishing School series with a bang and an excellent roundup of what becomes of the survivors. One of Carriger’s many strengths is to conclude series and begin new series in the same world, keeping her stories fresh. The balance of tension, comedy and romance is fabulous. I’ve been hanging out for the next Custard Protocol book since I finished the last delicious snack; Carriger keeps me wanting more. I highly recommend all her novels.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
ISBN: 9781907411595
Format: paperback, 320 pages
Imprint: Atom (Hachette)

Manners & Mutiny cover: a young woman in a Victorian-era bell skirt holds a crossbow