Sophronia and her friends have grown on me. Waistcoats & Weaponry, the third book in Carriger’s prequel Finishing School series, is much more in line with the early Alexia Tarabotti Parasol Protectorate books (Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, etc.) than the previous two books in this series. What we have in Waistcoats & Weaponry is a good old fashioned caper story. I was delighted.
Waistcoats& Weaponry picks up several months after Curtsies & Conspiracies. Our girls are continuing with their lessons at Madam Geraldine’s and Sophronia and Dimity are awaiting the chance to get off-dirigible to attend Sophronia’s brother’s masquerade engagement party (you can’t accuse Carriger of not giving a crazy level of detail to everything she writes). Before they go we are treated to lessons with my favorite teachers – checking in with Professor Braithwope the vampire and Captain Niall the werewolf (did I not mention that Carriger’s Steampunk novels include vampires and werewolves and they play a major role in the politics of this alt-history? Because they both do.) However, before Captain Niall’s lesson on bladed fans (I want one) Sidheag is called away because of a letter from home.
What happens next is a series of events that lead to the caper. I don’t want to give much away, so know that *any* event that Sophronia attends *something* goes absolutely haywire. Sophronia, Dimity, Lord Felix Mersey, and Soap (with some help from Dimity’s brother) take off into the night to get Sidheag to Scotland. And hijinks ensue.
I loved this book because there was a mystery as part of the plot that isn’t straight forward, but pulls the world that Carriger is creating more clearly into focus while simultaneously setting up the world we find in the Parasol Protectorate books. It is tightly paced and fun. What more could you want from a Y.A. Steampunk book? The series has gotten stronger as it continues and I’ve gone from feeling “meh” about completing it to being quite excited to eventually borrow book the fourth from crystalclear (who graciously lent me her *signed* copy of this book as well).