A review by Nalini Haynes
Page count: 320
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
Waistcoats and Weaponry is the 3rd finishing school novel after Etiquette and Espionage and Curtsies and Conspiracies. The finishing school novels are a prequel series to the Parasol Protectorate novels (Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless and Timeless; reviews at the links.)
Sophronia is doing well at finishing school but life gets complicated. Again. She doesn’t want to like Soap, the sootie, because his station in life and his colour make him totally unsuitable even if he is attractive. Meanwhile, Sophronia is also attracted to Lord Felix Mersey, whose Picklemen connections make him entirely unsuitable and somewhat dangerous.
Sidheag, one of Sophronia’s good friends, has had a family tragedy. She wants to run away from finishing school to be with her werewolf pack although she’s human. Sophronia, her best friend Dimity and an assortment of teenagers join the fray, beginning with an authorised leave of absence from school that rapidly escalates to hijacking a train, wearing boys’ clothes (Waistcoats and Weaponry should have been called Pants and Parasols. Or Furbelows and Fans.) Shock, horror — no tea. The drink. The ladies go into withdrawals.
For those who’ve read the Parasol Protectorate novels, this series may have presented some hurdles. I found it difficult to accept the automaton servants and their tracks after the contrasting society in the future relied on human servants. However, Sidheag and Geraldine’s appearances are fan services not a distraction. Waistcoats and Weaponry resolved most, if not all, of the major discrepancies between the two series so future novels can be more inventive and surprising.
Waistcoats and Weaponry continues developing some young adult characters with quirky personalities whose education shows the reader this steampunk and fantastical world. A charming, fun read.