In Curtsies & Conspiracies, the second of Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series, we join Sophronia Temminnick for her next stint at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. Sophronia is fifteen now (we somehow missed her birthday) and she is up for her six-month review. She has learned her lessons perhaps too well, as she is now shunned by her classmates. Although disappointed, this does not stop her from continuing her adventures!
And an adventure it now is, for not only are we headed for London, but there are boys onboard our floating finishing school! We officially meet Felix Golborne, Viscount Mersey, who was the mysterious boy Sophronia so rudely left on the dance floor of her sister’s ball. Felix is charming, rebellious, and a little confused on how to deal with Sophronia. Our plucky young heroine finally realizes that her interactions with Soap are not exactly purely innocent either. We now have not only the romance, but the love triangle as Sophronia is torn between Soap and Felix – and there are things that are unsuitable about both of them. Sophronia will most likely have to choose, unless the choice is taken from her. I know who I would like, but there are most likely a large group of people who would prefer the other. There are also some other romances hinted at in the wings, and I do hope they actually happen!
Sophronia does not seem to have as much fun – she’s so focused on school and the events going around her, she’s not enjoying herself and being a young girl. Everything she thinks about is in regards to the game. While the romances are nice, there are more dangerous happenings aboard the dirigible. Monique is more than just a stuck-up harridan, and she is weaving webs of her own. We learn some things about her that some may have suspected, but others come as a surprise. The plots are not so innocent – people are getting hurt, in more than one way. Sophronia is learning that her actions have consequences, and that people may get hurt, whether she wants them to or not. She is also getting involved in too many plots, things that may be beyond her, and she realizes it. Furthermore, the raging monster we call politics rears its ugly head. One of the nice parts about the book being in a school is that as our characters learn information, for example about vampire society, so do we.
The end of this book ends as the first, in a flurry of action (or in a kerfuffle, if you will!) It does not seem to go as quickly, though. Our finale lasts for about 50 pages, which is twice as long as before. The action takes place in a single evening, and the fast pace makes sense, as time always flies when one is having fun! We also meet some characters from Soulless, and it seems that it was not a one-time occurrence! This was not as easy a read as Etiquette & Espionage. There are more details and less fluff, and the action is getting more serious. Some things were resolved, but others just led to more questions! I for one am looking forward to what will come next!