In the first book in Gail Carriger’s first YA series we meet 14-year-old Sophronia Temminnick, a young girl with a knack for getting herself into unladylike situations. This leads her mother to send her off to a finishing school, in hopes that she will return refined and well behaved. Unbeknownst to her mother the finishing school she’s sent to, has bonus lessons in espionage and lessons from werewolves and vampires. Probably not what she intended to sign her daughter up for.
Sophronia is a very likeable character. She’s adventurous, friendly and very accepting to those that are different than her.
Parasol Protectorate fans will get a kick out of seeing some familiar names in this series, like Lefoux, Captain Niall and Sidheag Maccon (Lady Kingair). You should also be prepared to laugh with and at characters like Dimity—the first person Sophronia meets on the way to her new school and one of the most endearing in the book.
There’s also a possible love interest in Phineas B. Crow aka Soap, a ‘sootie’ who works in her school’s boiler room. Soap happens to be black, and considering the time this book is written in, I’m not sure how far this relationship will go—but I hope something happens, I like them together.
The book centres around a lost prototype that both the government and a criminal element known as ‘flyaway men’ are interested in and fellow student Monique de Pelouse (Think Regina George in Mean Girls) is who Sophronia believes has it.
After finishing the book I can say the prototype is still somewhat of a mystery to me, but I assume more will be revealed in book #2. Besides the prototypes purpose, I was mainly confused as to why none of the professors ever forced Monique to hand over the prototype, since the school was under attack multiple times over its retrieval. While everyone was set on making fake prototypes to trick the flyaway men, Sophronia seemed to be the only one really looking for it.
Overall the book was funny, witty and contained a whole bunch of colourful characters and dialogue I’ve come to expect from Carriger, so if this book is on you’re reading list you will not be disappointed!