Curtsies & Conspiracies is Carriger’s second book in her YA Finishing School series. Sophronia, our intrepid spy-in-training, has settled into life at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality; however, that’s not to say that school life has become routine. In fact, Sophronia’s closest friend, Dimity, faces kidnapping and it seems that the teachers are all bent on some sort of conspiracy. Never a dull day at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s.
Like the first book, Etiquette & Espionage, I also listened to this one on audiobook. Once again, I have to say that the narration was inspired. Moria Quirk really brings life to her narration immersing the listener right into Carriger’s paranormal world. Quirk’s narration just makes this a really fun read. The madcap nature of Curtsies & Conspiracies is what works to this series’s advantage. The premise of a finishing school training it’s young ladies to become spies/assassins is absolutely outrageous as are the techniques that the ladies are instructed upon. This deliberate foray into the absurd is what I like most about the series. It’s quirky and fun and pure escapism.
Like the first book in the series, I didn’t really find that there was that much depth to the characters. Sophronia continues to be the best girl in the school, although I think there are hints of her character maturing. I like the fact that Sophronia is starting to question the implications of her future as a spy and who exactly will be buying her services. I’d be interested in exploring this more fully throughout the series as I suspect being a spy will not be as fun as Sophronia thinks it will be.
What has also changed in book two is the hint of romance. Sophronia is torn between two young men, one suitable, and one most definitely not. This love triangle doesn’t play a huge role in the novel, rather is Sophronia’s adventures in discovering what’s really motivating the school’s excursion to London. But it is very clear that Sophronia is aware of her charms and not always above using them to her advantage.
I don’t think the Finishing School series is for everyone; I think it’s too tongue-in-cheek for some readers. But if you like the madcap, this remains a fun read. For myself, I find that I need a bit of a break from the series, so I wont be moving on to the third book just yet.
Check out my post on the first book in the series for similar reads.