Sophronia Temminnick learns that being top of her spy-school class isn’t a great way to make friends.
Social dramas and interspecies politics beset the inhabitants of the massive airship known as Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy. Sophronia’s teachers seem to be intentionally turning her friends against her; is everything at this dratted school a test? Even Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott isn’t on speaking terms with Sophronia. Without her friends, how will Sophronia ever unknot the massive tangle she’s caught up in, which involves vampires, a crystalline valve frequensor and flight through the aetherosphere? This sequel to Etiquette & Espionage (2013) is less charming than the series opener, with the whimsy replaced by an uninspiring love triangle that does not show Miss Temminnick in a flattering light. Perhaps an ability to see dark-skinned, working-class Soap as “a real boy” would be historically inaccurate, but then so are dirigible schools, werewolves in the British peerage and mechanimal sausage dogs, so allowances could be made. In any case, the language is every bit as delightful as in Sophronia’s first adventure (“Thrushbotham pip-monger swizzle sprocket”), even in this weightier tale.
Fans of Book 1 will want to read this one, though they will hope that the fizz returns in Book 3. (Steampunk. 11-14)