It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time.

Welcome to Finishing School.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 the 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. 

Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail’s legions of fans have come to adore.

Rating: 4.87 out of 5


Once upon a time, I had an idea to write a series called Mayhem Academy, wherein a group of teenagers trained to be international super spies. I never pursued it. Now I’m glad, because Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series is infinitely better than anything I could have written.

This series is SO MUCH FUN. Brave, clever, and loyal, Sophronia Temminick is the star pupil at Madame Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, which is a “finishing school” in more ways than one. The young ladies of Madame Geraldine’s are taught everything they need to succeed in polite 1850s London society, but they also receive lessons in weapons, poisoning, and manipulative flirtation. They are training to be Intelligencers–secret operatives hiding in plain site.

Brave, clever, and bold, Sophronia and her friends continually find themselves in the center of government plots and vicious power struggles between humans, vampires, and werewolves. Did I mention there are vampires and werewolves? And steampunk mechanicals who act as servants and pets? And dirigibles, Flywayman, and crystalline communication devices? This book is classified as YA, which makes sense given the age group of the characters, but it has a sophistication and sense of humor that is very adult. Seriously, this world is so real, so developed, and so delightfully British. It’s like Jane Austen meets James Bond by way of Fawlty Towers.

Start with the first book, Etiquette & Espionage, where Sophronia begins her training and makes the friends and enemies that will follow her through her education. In the second book, Curtsies & Conspiracies, Sophronia travels to London and delves into complex political struggles, and also meets a rather handsome young lordling. In the third book, Waistcoats & Weaponry, Sophronia formulates a bold plan to aid a friend that involves both skilled flirtation techniques and hijacking a train. The fourth book, Manners & Mutiny, brings the series to a satisfying and surprising close.

I can’t recommend these books enough. They are a perfect blend of action, humor, and budding romance. Carriger has written two other series in this same universe, and you can bet they are going on my reading list. If you are looking for a quick, exciting read, you can’t go wrong with Gail Carriger’s Finishing School.