Book Review: Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Title: Curtsies and Conspiracies

Author: Gail Carriger

Series: Finishing School #2

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: Sophronia’s first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy–won’t Mumsy be surprised? Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners. Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers’ quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship’s boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a field trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot–one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card. -Goodreads

The Review:

This sequel was a lot stronger than the first book.

The plot made more sense, the characters had better dynamics, and the finishing school elements were more prominent. Overall I thought it improved things on all accounts save one: the world building.

Rather than feeling like a good blend of genres, the world creation here still feels like a random hodgepodge of components. Perhaps it’s introduced and explained better in the Parasol Protectorate (the parent series to this spinoff prequel), but within the context of this series alone, I’m not buying it yet. There are vampires and werewolves, but there’s no lore explaining how these supernatural beings came about, nor is there much explanation on how they’ve integrated into society.

Their inclusion also doesn’t fit the sophisticated, steampunk vibes of the story. Because not only are there supernatural beings, but there are also small mechanical creations and airships large enough to support thriving communities. And while I like this component, thus far it feels a bit underdeveloped. I’m told they’re on a airship, but I never get drop-in details or other atmosphere-building descriptions while reading. The characters are so focused on their dramas that there’s not much room left over for setting the physical scene.

I appreciated the intrigue in the book, and find myself latching on to some of the more interesting plot points – ones I hope to see expanded on in next books. The characters showed a bit more depth in this book and I particularly liked the interactions between them all. The MC has a lot of big ideas and strategies, and while they’re not always super believable, they do make for a decently absorbing plot.

Overall the series is definitely improving, even if the world-building hasn’t quite won me over yet. I’m looking forward to the next one.

Recommendations: pick up this series for a fun, mischief -laden YA. Particularly if you love reading about boarding schools and high-brow societies.

Other books you might like (same as for the first book):

by Niki Hawkes

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