Book Review: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

*I received a copy of the ARC from the publisher in advance of the publication date. I signed up to receive it through their promotion as sponsors of Unshelved.*

Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series has definitely been a favorite on my shelves for a few years now. Her first, Soulless, has been read over and over and I’ve introduced it to several friends, the Philosopher included. With witty repartee, steam punk Victorian aesthetic, and a healthy dose of pragmatism from the heroine, they are very enjoyable books and I’m glad the vampire/werewolf/steampunk craze did not totally overwhelm us before her books came along.

But now that Parasol Protectorate has concluded, I’ve been waiting with some trepidation for Carriger’s next forays.

Etiquette and Espionage is a move into teen literature and that can often come with challenges for adult authors. Readers of Carriger’s other work will find some familiar characters, younger versions of themselves but thankfully, not all of them. Carriger, so far, is finding a story for these characters, rather than taking a side character, aging them down a few years, and taking off in directions that don’t align with the adult work, a trap I’ve seen other authors fall into.

Unlike Soulless, which could stand on it’s own as a story, Etiquette and Espionage was obviously about world building. We met characters who will grow and develop; we were given hints at things to come; and we learned about the school.

I enjoyed the frivolity of the book, adding in handkerchief and eyelash fluttering lessons in with more practical education. If the Regency and other historical romance writers I frequently favor are anything to go by, these may well have been actual subjects for the finishing of some young ladies, but it’s presented in such seriousness that one can’t but take it lightly.

While there are some small events in the story, overall the work felt like a prelude and that is my only serious complaint. I think once all four books are out (three more are to follow), I’ll want to read them together as though they were one longer tale rather than short snippets. I am looking forward to the next on though and to Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate Abroad series due out this fall–which will take on the next generation after the Parasol Protectorate.