Liesl Freudenstein, children’s book buyer at the Boulder Book Store in Boulder, Colo., shares her enthusiasm for an early 2013 release she is especially eager to sell. It’s Gail Carriger’s Etiquette & Espionage, which marks the author’s YA debut and launches the Finishing School series. Little, Brown will publish the novel in February 2013.
A long time ago, when I had bunches of summer afternoons to read, I went through a whole summer of reading Nancy Drew. The next summer, I went through all of the Sherlock Holmes, Wilkie Collins, and Victoria Holt books I could dig out of my grandmother’s house. So when Etiquette & Espionage crossed my desk, my 11-year-old heart leapt, and I grabbed it straight off the huge stack of galleys in my office. I mean, how could I not? A plucky heroine, a Victorian setting, moors, and a boarding school – these are a few of my favorite things!
When I opened the novel, I was immediately enchanted and delighted. Fourteen-year-old Sophronia (great names are a must!) has been sent to a finishing school to gain polish. Of course it’s not actually a finishing school, but a school for spies – think The Scarlet Pimpernel, only backwards and in high heels. Oh, and with a ginormous dirigible as the school – reminding me of Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl's Moving Castle – a mechanical dog, a vampire professor, and lethal crinolines. I’m pretty sure that steampunk is now on my list of favorites.
Gail Carriger has the deft storytelling of Jones and the whimsy of Jasper Fforde. I have passed the galley to several people – teens and adults, men and women – and each time it comes back a little more tattered and with great reviews. I really look forward to having the book on my shelves, so I can stand in front of it and hand to everyone who walks by. It’s fun, fresh, witty, exciting, and is full of dastardly doings and an easy absurdity that that leaves a smile on your face.