Curtsies & Conspiracies

Product by:
Gail Carriger

Reviewed by:
On November 8, 2013
Last modified:November 17, 2013


Steampunk Harry Potter with spies and parasols.

15723286Title: Curtsies & Conspiracies
Series: Finishing School series
Published: November 5th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320 pages
Status: First reading, 5/11 2013
Genre: Steampunk, young adult, boarding school, adventure, comedy of manners

I have been looking forward to Curtsies & Conspiracies for weeks now and was so happy when it showed up in my Kindle app.

Fashion Plate – 1853

This is the second book in the Finishing School series, that is part of the greater steampunk universe that Gail Carriger is writing. The The Parasol Protectorate series is probably the main series, but I like Finishing School way better. I like the protagonist better and I really like boarding school books. To me these books are like steampunk Harry Potter. The Finishing School series is set in 1851-1854.

This is such an easy read all of it pretty much in one sitting giggling along the way and was so sad when the book ended and there was no more. In other words like when I read books in my teens. I didn’t want it to end because I was having so much fun and I didn’t want to leave this awesome world.

The writing is peppered with expressions that makes it feel like it is set in the 1800s without being bogged down with the actual victorian writing style. There are so many funny turns of phrases and the names are just so silly and enjoyable.

Footwear, after all, was a serious commitment.


This is by no means a serious book but it is a highly entertaining book. I know I just said that the book isn’t serious that isn’t quite true, in the course of the action, our protagonist is for the first time faced by the very real consequences of the games she plays, up until then the whole espionage thing has very much been a game to her. In this book she is forced to face that her actions affect real people in quite profound ways.

1850-1851 fashion plates

This series is all about female friendships which is wonderful. They are so sweet but also so mean to each other – like 14 year olds are. The book is also very much about fashion and half way though I had to get up and grab my fashion history book to see what kind of dresses they were talking about.

I really love how our protagonist befriend the sooties but still not quite see them as real boys, even though she has feelings for one of them. This makes the book feel like it is set in the time instead of the protagonist being a modern girl transported into the past. The protagonist is quite progressive but not unrealistically so. I do find it a bit odd that Soap is so much older than Sophronia (I think she is 14 and he is 17 – that is a lot at that age). I could see if she was in love with him but the other way around seems a bit strange.

1852 – Henri Giffard made the first successful powered steam flight

It will be quite interesting to see how the romance will develop in the next book. Right now I have to agree with our protagonist that the love-interest is a bit of an arrogant idiot at time. Seriously our protagonist is more competent than you and she does not need you saving her – so stop it – though it is of course quite sweet that you try – in a puppy kind of way.

I have to say that I adore the description of the male gentalia that is the book – it is so funny and seems quite right for 14 year old girls. It made me giggle and highlight the section.

There are some henchmen as antagonists. When the situation gets too hot, they decides to make a run for it with the comment:

“We ain’t paid enough for this”

Cartoon Victorian underwear 1856
Cartoon 1857

Which made me very happy. In most action movies (and this really is an action adventure), the henchmen stay and fight after most of their colleges are killed and they could easily escape the situation. Which quite often annoys me, ok sometimes that is realistic because they are part of a gang and their situation is quite desperate, but the random museum security guard, I don’t think he would stick it out and fight people with rocket launchers – sorry I don’t think he gets payed enough and I think he would rather live to see his family tomorrow. So it made me extremely happy when the henchmen decided to get out of the sticky situation.

Ok enough rambling. I really liked the book, it is funny, entertaining, fast paced with plenty of action and enough quite domestic scenes to make me happy.

Steampunk Harry Potter with spies and parasols.

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