Book Review: Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Posted January 1, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger
Series: Finishing School #3
Genres: Steampunk
on November 4, 2014
Pages: 298
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Curtsies & Conspiracies, Etiquette and Espionage, Manners & Mutiny, Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Prudence, Imprudence, Competence, Reticence, Changeless, Blameless , Heartless , Timeless

Third in the Finishing School steampunk series for young adults and revolving around Sophronia Temminnick and her friends and takes place in January 1853. This is a prequel series that takes place twenty-five years before Carriger’s The Parasol Protectorate.

My Take

Carriger does enjoy poking fun at Victorian society and goes in-depth to explore sex education, ahem, in terms of seduction. It also gets a bit nasty with Sophronia discovering some unsavory aspects to her thinking when Soap makes some overtures. The kids are growing up. It certainly makes me grateful for America’s relatively “class-less” society.

Carriger cracked me up with the *eyebrow waggle* seduction scene in the cart, lol.

“Some gentlemen, her brothers had whispered, even did it with each other. Although this was considered quite uncouth, Sophronia gathered, once one left Eton.”

What dropped my rating for Waistcoats & Weaponry was Sidheag’s insistence on keeping the Kingair Pack intact. Intellectually, I understood Sidheag’s concerns, but the emotional aspect of her worries didn’t grab me nor did Carriger help me understand how this was so important to her. If anything, I was annoyed. And, well, I think I was also very uncomfortable with Sophronia discovering what a hypocrite she is.

I did appreciate getting a back history on why a Lady Kingair is in charge of the Kingair Pack in The Parasol Protectorate.

What-ho! The prototype from Etiquette & Espionage, 1, plays a part in this.

I LOVE that Dimity speaks up for Soap and admires his skin color! Sophronia is rather surprised as well, lol.

It’s well worth reading, if only for all the laughs…and the massive changes that occur in everyone’s lives.

The Story

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 stow away 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. Certainly not a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos, and Sophronia must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.

The Characters

The sixteen-year-old Sophronia Temminnick is an excellent student in the finishing arts of espionage. Bumbersnoot is her coal-eating mechanimal, her pet metal dog.

The guilelessly crafty Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott; the stoic and Scottish Sidheag Maccon, Lady Kingair; and, the always trying Agatha Woosmoss are Sophronia’s particular friends, although Soap refers to the ladies as Sophronia’s “projects”.

Soap, a.k.a., Phineas, is one of the sooties in engineering and a great (illicit) friend of Sophronia’s and Sidheag’s. Seems he has a particular ambition with which Sophronia doesn’t agree.

Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is…
…a cover for a floating dirigible spy school for young ladies. Professor Aloysius Braithwope is a vampire who teaches vampire politics, using fashion to kill or confuse, and interacting with government, high society, and curling tongs. Sister Mattie Herschel-Teape teaches household management including medicinal cures and poisoning. Lady Linette de Limmone holds the real power. Professor Beatrice Lefoux teaches deadly gadgetry, high-impact weaponry, and infiltrating academia. Mademoiselle Geraldine may be the official headmistress, but she’s clueless as to her school’s true purpose, so her lessons in finishing truly are the real thing. Captain Niall is a werewolf and handles self-defense and weapons training.

Other students include Miss Preshea Buss who has taken on Monique’s old role of resident nasty. Frenetta is her roommate.

Bunson and Lacroix’s Boys’ Polytechnique is…
…the boys’ school version and encourages the boys to become villains. Lord Felix Golborne, Viscount Mersey, is the son and heir of a duke and a member in bad standing with the Pistons. He is also attracted to Sophronia. Vieve is Professor Lefoux’s inventor niece masquerading as a boy in order to attend. The very nice and inventive Pillover, a.k.a., Pustule, is Dimity’s younger brother. Lord Dingleproops also has Pickleman leanings.

The Duke of Golborne is, unfortunately, a Pickleman besides being Felix’s father. The too-tense Shaggy and Stubby are “flywaymen”.

The ball…
…celebrates Ephraim Temminnick‘s engagement (he’s the oldest son and Sophronia’s brother). The rest of Sophronia’s siblings include Nigella (she’s married to Dr. Chillingsrymple) and Octavia as the oldest children, then Ephraim, Gresham‘s at Oxford, her sister Petunia is liable to set her cap at Felix, and Humphrey and Hudibras are the youngest boys. Roger is a stable hand. Frowbritcher is the mechanical butler. Mrs. Barnaclegoose is a dear friend of Mrs. Temminnick — and the reason Sophronia is at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s school.

Lord Akeldama, a vampire dandy, has been “wooing” Sophronia. Lord Vulkasin is the current Alpha of the Woolsey Pack in London. Lord Maccon is the Alpha for the Kingair Pack in Scotland, the second most powerful werewolf in Britain, and Sidheag’s great-great-great-great-grandfather. Lord Slaughter is the dewan, the queen’s personal advisor and keeps the peace between Alphas through his position on the Shadow Council. Monique de Pelouse had been at the school, but is now a drone to the Westminster Hive which is led by Countess Nadasdy.

Dusty is the stoker on the train. Mr. Smollet is in charge of the aetherographic transmitter.

Picklemen are a secret society whose members want all supernaturals dead and political control in their hands. The Pistons is a young men’s club for those with a preference for black eyeliner, Pickleman politics, and fancy waistcoats. A claviger hopes to be turned and serves as a human servant to a werewolf pack; I think a drone is a human servant to a vampire hive.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a green brocade background with a cocky Sophronia in her steampunk costume of black with her double-buckled belt, that vicious metal fan, and the slash of lace meant to represent soot.

The title is a poke at the Pistons and a nod to Sophronia and her lessons in Waistcoats & Weaponry.

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