Manners & Mutiny: Finishing School, Book the Fourth

Written by Gail Carriger
Review by Eva Ulett

Sophronia Temminnick and her particular friends are nearing the end of their careers at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing School. The proper Victorian establishment is actually a training academy for female intelligencers, run aboard a dirigible hovering over the Dartmoor moorlands. The story opens with a Finishing School tea party, where Sophronia and her classmates are impersonating one another, under the critical eyes of their human and vampire professors, at the same time carrying on flirtations with the boys from Bunson’s – a school for evil geniuses.

We are at once immersed in Carriger’s frolicsome world, where characters have names like Lord Dingleproops, the heroine wields weapons ranging from a wicker chicken to a bolt-shooting crossbow, and the government is run by a Shadow Council consisting of a head werewolf, vampire, and Queen Victoria. The somewhat thin plot centers on a threat to School and Country from the Picklemen. The chief of this nefarious group is styled the Chutney, while his right hand man is the Grand Gherkin. None of this really matters, because the story is packed with fun, wit, and adventure. Sophronia’s single-handed confrontation with the Picklemen, when exploding chicken and pastries come into play, is an exciting highlight.

This fourth book in the Finishing School series has a great mix of humor and action, and features an intelligent, daring, well-rounded heroine. “Imagine discounting someone on the grounds of age and gender!” Sophronia declares for all young women everywhere.  For 12 plus.