Sunday, January 27, 2013
Beginning the Finishing
Ever since I discovered SOULLESS, the first volume of the Parasol Protectorate series written by the pseudonymous Gail Carriger, that series has been my favorite expression of the subgenre of science fiction (or, here, fantasy) known as steampunk. Ms. Carriger's witty extrapolation of werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and soulless cursebreakers as European (and, particularly, British) nobility filled five volumes of PP novels with humor, adventure, giant octopus robots, and the sort of characters that make readers fans. Ms. Carriger even accomplished the amazing feat of putting the second and third books of the series on the New York Times bestseller list in the same year -- something few writers who aren't named Patterson or James do.
This past summer, I was lucky enough to obtain an Advanced Reader Copy of ETIQUETTE AND ESPIONAGE, the first book in Ms. Carriger's follow-up series to the Parasol Protectorate. I can confidently say that folks who enjoyed the Parasol Protectorate novels will find much to love here. The series, set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate series but a few decades earlier, focuses on 14-year-old Sophronia, whose irrepressible curiosity, resourcefulness, and troublemaking bring her to the attention of Madame Geraldine's Finishing School. This girls' school, located on a fascinatingly baroque airship, teaches young women not only the arts of curtsies and cotillions but also the arts of assassination, infiltration, distracting flirtation, and other skills essential to "finishing" a foe.
Aimed squarely at a young-adult audience, ETIQUETTE AND ESPIONAGE keeps the steamy technology but eschews the steamy romantic clinches of the PP series. In exchange, it amps up the humor and occasional absurdity. In particular, the occasional glimpses of the school's counterpart for boys (training them to be evil geniuses) are strongly reminiscent of Phil and Kaja Foglio's GIRL GENIUS graphic novel series.
ETIQUETTE AND ESPIONAGE is being released February 5, 2013, and is highly recommended.