Review: Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

CurtsiesSeries: (Finishing School #2)
Published by: Little, Brown
ISBN: 031619011X
ISBN 13: 9780316190114
Published: August 2013
Pages: 310
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Three out of Five
Related Reviews: Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)

Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger is the second in her Finishing School series, following on from Etiquette and Espionage and set once again in the same world as her Parasol Protectorate and thus naturally comprises of her usual humour and lightheartedness wrapped up in a steampunk Victorian setting and bustling with lively characters.

These books are quick and easy reading and are in no way designed to challenge the mind but that’s fine, they’re meant to be brief and fun and that’s exactly what they are. However, the leading character Sophronia does start to come across as perhaps a little too perfect, particularly for a fifteen year old. It takes the lack of complexity to its extreme by having such a flawless protagonist and it’s quite a shame as otherwise she’s a fun and likeable character to spend time with.

There’s also very little in the way of plot and intrigue. The characters are thin so it’s hard to consider them critically, though what felt quite unnecessary was the love triangle, in which we learn of Sophronia’s excellence in attracting males (another flawless trait). Parts read rather strangely, but then so did a lot of the book. There’s not as much depth and detail to the plot than there was in the first; in the first she welcomed us to the world but now that’s done and dusted we seem to lack drive in world and plot building. There’s new elements to be sure, but they seemed a little lacking to me.

Regardless, the school is a fun setting with lots of steampunk elements, definitely on the higher end of the technological spectrum, but it feels like more could have been done here, or maybe the setting feels too good for the rest of the book. Perhaps she’s doing so well at enticing us to the world I’m desperate to know more and used to getting slightly more than we’ve seen in this second book.

What works however is the humour, and that’s the heart of the book and the series itself, so it’s good to say it works very well. Often silly but never unamusing, it really is the humour that ties the book together more than the story that slips the mind or the characters that are all people at their most exaggerated.

Overall this series is fun but a tiny bit lacking. Or perhaps it’s that so much more could be done with this series and yet it’s kept a little too basic. Either way, I’ll be reading on.

This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 11th January 2014.


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