Publish Date: February 5, 2013
Source: ALA for honest review
Series: Finishing School #1
Rating: Near Miss/Hit
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy properly and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners--and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geralidine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's , young ladies learn to finish. . .everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage--in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.
While I found Etiquette & Espionage to be a rather slow read, it had it's cute moments and I look forward to reading about Sophronia's future adventures.
Let's start with the things I wasn't such a fan of.
Things move incredibly slowly and the plot isn't all that engaging. Sure, there's the larger plot with secretive things going on meant to keep the reader curious, but it didn't really do much for me. The bigger plot point seemed to be Sophronia's growth in finishing school. I enjoyed watching Sophronia make friends and grow a little more, but I spent the majority of the book waiting for some bigger plot point to present itself. I think I might have enjoyed Etiquette & Espionage had I gone in with different expectations.
As I said before, while I did find myself enjoying Sophronia and her friends' day-to-day school life, the entire book felt like one big introduction. To be fair, this is the first book in a series, but I generally want to be sucked into the initial story in order to make me continue on with the series. Etiquette & Espionage only just managed to catch my interest.
The crazy names got to me at first, but I did end up growing used to them.
Now onto more positive things!
Is it bad if my absolute favorite thing about the story was Bumbersnoot? Bumbersnoot is a little mechanical dog who happens to have a lot of personality considering he's a machine. He's just so stinkin' adorable with his storage compartment and mini-furnace. What's not to love about a little dog who can store things for you as well as burn up evidence?
The characters of Etiquette & Espionage are all pretty diverse, and I definitely have some favorites, so I'll just talk about those since there's quite the cast.
Sophronia: I like that Sophronia grew as a person and a lady, but still kept hold of her true self. Sure, she starts learning what dresses to wear and how to act in the presence of men, but she also enjoys the company of the low-class Sooties and doesn't shun them for their lot in life.
Dimity: I found Dimity to be a bit annoying in the beginning. She seems to honestly only care about dresses and pretty things, when it comes down to it, though, she's a great friend to Sophronia.
Soap: Soap is basically awesome. He's a Sootie who immediately takes a liking to Sophronia and steals my heart as well. He has this air of happiness around him that's a bit infectious. He doesn't take himself too seriously, but is still a perfect gentleman. Basically, I ship Sophronia and Soap ;]
Professor Braithwope: I'm not exactly sure what it is about him, but I quite like him. Maybe it's that he's a slightly quirky vampire with gentlemanly ways. Plus, he seems to be the nicest of the professors.
The Nutshell: I found Etiquette & Espionage to be a slow read mainly focused on setting up the rest of the series, but still enjoyable. If you go into it expecting a bit of a slow story with a main focus on school life then you'll likely enjoy Etiquette & Espionage!