Werewolves, and vampires, and Picklemen, oh my! It can only be another marvelous steampunk novel from Gail Carriger. Waistcoats & Weaponry, the third book in her Finishing School series is a wonderful adventure for Sophronia Temminnick and some of her friends. Although it's time for Sophronia to realize she can't keep all her friends around her as they grow up.
1863 in Victorian England finds Sophronia in her second year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. She's learning all kinds of practical skills such as how to flirt and how to use a steel-bladed fan as a weapon. She worries about her friend, Sidheag, Lady Kingair, but it isn't until the middle of a ball for Sophronia's brother that Sidheag asks for help. There are troubles with the werewolves in Sidheag's pack in Scotland, and Sidheag is determined to return home. So, what is more natural than for Sophronia to steal a train that seems to be empty? How many friends does it take to steal a train? Sophronia, Lady Kingair, their friend Dimity from school, Sophronia's friend, Soap, the sootie from their dirigible school, and Felix, Lord Mersey (although they're not sure they can trust him), hijack the train and head north.
This third novel forces Sophronia to utilize all her skills to help her friends, and she realizes how much she's willing to do to save them. Carriger's series is a fast-paced adventure, with characters who continue to mature as they deal with the politics of Victorian England.
For those unfamiliar with steampunk, Carriger's novels are set in an alternate England in which supernatural creatures such as werewolves and vampires are part of society, a society that values mechanical devices such as dirigibles, steam engines, and mechanical servants. It's a society balanced precariously with allies and enemies, supernaturals who are accepted by the British Government, and those who don't want the supernaturals as allies. Sophronia Temminnick is not only learning etiquette and espionage learning who she can trust, and who she cannot.
Carriger's Finishing School series should be read in order so readers can meet Sophronia and her friends and enemies, watch the relationships change, and watch the characters grow. Waistcoats & Weaponry is just the third in what promises to be an exciting, fascinating series.
Gail Carriger's website is www.gailcarriger.com
Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger. Little, Brown & Company. 2014. ISBN 9780316190275 (hardcover), 298p.
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