Title: Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3)
Author: Gail Carriger
No. of Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Origins: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: 4 November 2014
Bottom Line: I adore this series and think it keeps getting stronger.
“Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style–with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what–or who–they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.
Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine’s proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger.”
Thoughts: The third book in the Finishing School series continues Sophronia’s education in all things related to spy work and being a proper lady. However, this time the story takes a surprising turn of events, as most of it occurs off school grounds/air. Sophronia and her friends must use the knowledge they have gleaned from their professors to thwart an unexpected plot in the unlikeliest of places. As usual, there is plenty of satire to amuse even the most hard-hearted of fans. However, there is also something that has been missing in previous books.
As Sophronia works to stop the plot, help her friend, and protect her reputation, she also discovers affairs of the heart. Since she is off of school property and on her own, we also see her using caution and weighing her options in way not previously seen. In many ways, this is the first time readers see glimpses of the adult Sophronia will become, and it is exciting. She must decide where her true loyalties lie for the first time after she realizes there is more at stake than she previously imagined. She must also make a choice between the two men in her life. It is a great example of proper character development that enhances the story and makes readers care about Sophronia that much more deeply.
Even better, readers finally learn where the Finishing School series occurs in relation to Ms. Carriger’s other series, the Parasol Protectorate series. For readers who have already experienced that wonderful series, it is exciting to finally be able to connect the dots and have a proper frame of reference. One can only hope that as Sophronia continues her schooling at Madame Geraldine’s, readers may see more familiar faces as the two series intertwine.
Waistcoats & Weaponry is not all heart and earnestness. There is plenty of the characteristic Carriger humor and biting honesty for which fans love her novels. Her portrayal of social conventions regarding gender interactions is one of the more hilarious scenes in the story but definitely not the only one. No Victorian custom or fashion is safe under her pen, as she cleverly exposes the hypocrisy or ludicrousness of them. Without a doubt, Waistcoats & Weaponry is quintessential Ms. Carriger. Because of that and the added personal growth and development Sophronia shows during her train adventure, the Finishing School series keeps getting better and better.