The first book of what I hope will be a successful series is set in an odd world of vampires, werewolves, spies and dirigibles to make for a fun steampunk adventure. Sophronia’s natural inquisitiveness keeps her in bad graces with her aristocratic mother. Something must be done to tame her daughter. Sophronia is sent off to a finishing school to teach her manners like curtsying, dancing, conversation, etc. But on the way, their carriage is attacked and the adventure begins. It seems that the flywaymen want a prototype of an object that one of the school girls has hidden. It turns out this is not a conventional finishing school, but a school that trains women to spy and scheme and mastermind, using their womanly wiles. The school floats here and there suspended by hot air balloons. Sophronia is comfortable in the boiler room with the working class boys and also brings out the best in her classmates, drawing them into her adventures. This clever first book in the Finishing School series focuses on building the world that the author’s adult readers have come to enjoy in her Parasol Protectorate series, and introducing the primary characters that I hope will continue to be included in the rest of the books. The setting felt like a blend of Oppel’s Airborn series and Westerfeld’s Leviathan series. Clever, engaging, and fun!
eGalley review Publication date 2.5.13