Etiquette & Espionage is an enchanting story that takes place in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate series. Carriger has a knack for weaving a very Victorian style plot in current age vernacular.
The story takes place roughly 25 years before the events of the PP series. Rowdy and rambunctious Sophronia Temminck has once again embarrassed her mother by way of highly unladylike conduct. Luckily for Sophronia's mother, she has already arranged for her daughter to be sent away to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. However, this is no ordinary finishing school. The additional subjects on intelligence gathering and appropriate fighting maneuvers for ladies of quality, while not known to the public (including Sophronia's mother), may pique Sophronia's interest.
The book was absolutely charming! The art of questioning without showing one's motives, eyelash fluttering, and fainting with purpose are just a few of the class subjects that Sophronia and her peers must learn. The plot is hard to judge from an adult perspective. I found it rather subtle and predictable. However, it IS a YA book and my perceptions are coming from a demographic outside of which the book was intended for. I personally found the book so entertaining that I didn't care if I could guess the ending easily. The only true problem I found was the issue pf Monique's teacher spy. Who was it? Will that be revealed later? The characters were intriguing and the premises of the book captured my attention. Carriger does steampunk in a way that is very inviting to people that may not have explored the genre, yet she still keeps to the core elements of the subculture.
E&E is like a wonderful cross of steampunk Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, minus the fairies. A spectacular school with questionable morals and kick ass technology; in which the main character is special in some way and is always breaking the rules. Add a sprinkle of supernatural creatures and you have E&E. The best part is that a few beloved characters from PP are in the book as their younger selves! A teenage Sideagh (please forgive the spelling), a pint size Genevive, and an alive Beatrice Lafoux (...her name was Beatrice right?)! I loved this book so much and I can't wait for the next installment!