Ever read a series and try to describe it to someone and have them look at you like “this sounds nuts?” I have many of those. There is the series that is about assassin nuns in 12th century Brittany who are also daughters of Death (literally). There is the other series about an alternate 1980s where time travel is real and you can actually get yourself into a fictional world with the right skills. And then there is the series I just finished in an alternate supernatural steampunk Victorian England set in a finishing school for lady spies. On one hand, such a description sounds nuts and because of that, people fail to see just how spectacularly awesome this series is.
The Finishing School series by Gail Carriger follows the hijinks of a Miss Sophronia Temminnick and her fellow students as they attend Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. A finishing school which has one purpose in mind: to turn its students into lethal intelligencers. It’s also a floating dirigible which just might make it the coolest boarding school outside of Hogwarts. Over the course of four years, Sophronia and her gang manage to save themselves and the realm a number of times before graduating and gallivanting off on their next adventure. There are also vampires, werewolves, and a notorious secret society called the Picklemen who are usually up to no good (the name alone is insulting to Sophronia, ladies are apparently not welcome).
Sophronia is a fantastic heroine; she reminded me some of my other favorite precocious and lethal leading ladies, Flavia de Luce and Theodosia Throckmorton. You get those three together in a book and fiction won’t know what hit it. She also has a pet robotic dog, a best friend in one of the sooties running the boiler for her school and the sharpest mind to even try to seduce gossip out of poor unsuspecting evil geniuses in training her school has yet seen. She’s the sort of character you wish you could be like but are secretly exhausted by. As her friends basically say to her often, she has no off switch.
It’s a series you can read fast and you should since it is complete now. You don’t have to wait to find out what happens next and Sophronia and her friends will not disappoint. I am excited now to re-visit and finish the other series Ms. Carriger has which is set in the same universe as The Finishing School books just 25 years later. Dashing off now!