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. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’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.
This might sound odd, but this book reminded a lot of Harry Potter in its plot style. Hear me out – Girl gets sent away to boarding school, but there’s more than meets the eye at this boarding school, there are magical creatures like werewolves and vampires, girl befriends group of misfits, explores parts of the boarding school she shouldn’t, discovers a secret plot going on at the school, etc.
I don’t want to give away the ending, I just wanted to note some similarities I found. It was similar enough to remind me of Harry Potter, but different enough to feel like an entirely differently type of book. Since I loved Harry Potter, I also loved the reminder of it that this book gave me. The story does go kind of slowly, but in a similar fashion to the Harry Potter books it seems like each book will have its own subplot, which will tie into a larger overarching plot for the series. Even though the plot itself moved a little bit slow, the detail and interaction between the characters made me whip through this book.
I simply adored the steampunk world that this book was set in. With vampire, werewolves, mechanical maids, boarding schools on giant blimps, the whole thing was amazing. The author did a wonderful job of describing the setting, and I always had a very good visual of what was surrounding the characters and what all the characters looked like. I really enjoyed that the main character, Sophronia, was able to roam her boarding school. This gave me a very good visual in my mind of how the school was laid out.
I particularly enjoyed Sophronia as a character. She was silly, curious, adventurous, smart, sassy, and a very nice person over all. I wanted to become part of her world and be friends with her and her group of ‘misfit’ friends. That’s another thing that I enjoyed, her friends. They developed nicely throughout the book, and the new characters were introduced slowly and with thorough detail.
All in all I truly loved this book and look forward to, hopefully, completing the series over this summer.
I would give it 4.5/5
For Fans Of: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, and The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
P.S. Gail Carrigan also has another series set in the same world as the Finishing School series, called The Parasol Protectorate. I will definitely be checking that one out after I finish this series.
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