Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Finishing School, Book the Fourth - Manners & Mutiny

The girls of Mademoiselle Geraldine's floating finishing school have reached their final year of lessons, and what a year it is!

Having survived tech week for the play I was directing, I finally have the chance to settle down and read some more, and this is one I've been waiting to read.  It's bittersweet, as it is the last in the series, so it's hard to pick it up knowing once I finish it, there won't be any more - yet, at the same time, I couldn't wait to pick it up, because I wanted to see how everything would reach a conclusion.  Author Gail Carriger certainly did not disappoint!

Sophronia and her friends, Dimity and Agatha, are back in school, but the changes are obvious.  Their fourth conspirator, Sighead, has left the school to pursue a future in her clan back in Scotland.  And Soap - - the young sootie who seems to always be in Sophronia's heart and mind - - is now living as a werewolf after having nearly died at the end of the last book.  But there is no time for wistful thoughts or heart-felt longings in Manners & Mutiny, for there is a New Year's ball to attend!  The school is all aflutter over the fact that they will be mixing it up with the boys from Bunson and Lacroix's Polytechnique.  Only, this once a year event turns into a catalyst that leads Sophronia and her friends on their final confrontation with the ever-increasing threat of the Picklemen.

The action in this novel builds slowly, with the first third of the book focused more on reminding readers that you can't always trust everyone, and that those you thought you can't trust might not be everything they seem.  It's not until the Picklemen's ultimate plan is revealed (SPOILER - they intend to take over the dirigible that hosts Mademoiselle Geraldine's school!) that the action intensifies.  Sophronia and her friends must part ways in order to effectively stop the machinations of this evil group, who are hell-bent on overtaking the government and using the mechanicals to do it.  How the finishing school fits into that plan is something else entirely, and Sophronia finds herself on a lone wolf mission to stop them before it's too late!

While Soap does not appear much in the book, fans of this lovable character will be pleased with the ultimate outcome of his storyline.  Sophronia's nemesis, Monique, returns as well, although not quite as expected.  In fact, there are several characters who will surprise readers in this finale, and while it may be somewhat cheesy, I absolutely loved the ending - it was everything I could have hoped for in this series and wrapped up the loose ends, while leaving room for more stories if Carriger ever decides to return to tell more.

I may not be a huge steampunk fan, I can honestly say that this series gave me something to think about when it comes to that genre.  Would definitely recommend this series for anyone who enjoys the supernatural or steampunk or a bit of espionage games (or all three!).

RATING:  8 exploding chickens out of 10 for finishing these girls off in style!

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