Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what--or who--they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.Look, if you've read the earlier books in the Finishing School series, why wouldn't you pick up Waistcoats and Weaponry? I think it's my favourite so far. If you've read some of Carriger's other books but not yet started on this series, why ever not? You should probably fix that post-haste. Especially if you like any of: steampunk; mannerpunk; trains; fans as deadly weapons (see cover).
It's always hard to review a book three in a continuity-dependent series — and I'm tempted not to — but there is one aspect I particularly want to speculate upon. There are events in this book which directly relate to events on one of the Parasol Protectorate books (not sure I should say which one) and I cannot decide which series is then a spoiler for the other. Obviously this prequel series was written second so it makes sense to read in writing order. But it also means I knew what had happened at one point before it was explained, whereas it would have seemed to come from left field for a reader not familiar with the other series. On the other hand, the events are related from very different perspectives in the two narratives, so perhaps it doesn't really matter. But it's an interesting dilemma to contemplate (or at least, I thought so).
Waistcoats and Weaponry is an excellent addition to an excellent series. I highly recommend both to anyone with a passing sense of humour and any speculative fiction leanings. Really, it's that good. If you've read the earlier books in the series, why are you not already reading this one?!
5 / 5 stars
First published: November 2014
Series: Finishing School book the third of four
Format read: ePub
Source: Purchased from Google Play