Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Waistcoats and WeaponryThis book was borrowed from the Yolo County Public Library Davis branch.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“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.”

I think that this is my favorite book in this series thus far.  Rather than continuing the same things as the previous two books, Carriger turns several ideas and characters on their heads to wonderful effect.  There are still the politics between humans and sundowners; there’s still the looming threat of the Picklemen; there are still manners to master and intrigues to plot.  What makes this book shine is that some assumptions that readers have been encouraged to hold are neatly overset.

The main way in which the author accomplishes this is by broadening the motivations of the characters.  I especially liked that a character that has previously been shown as one-dimensionally bad is given a lot more depth.  Hidden depths are revealed in other characters, giving their actions more weight.

I was also excited to see that the events of this book lay the foundation for circumstances in Carriger’s companion series, The Parasol Protectorate.  I’m pretty sure that a lot of this series’s readers came to it from the original books, and so tying them together is a wise choice.  And teen readers who enjoy these books can use them as a jumping-off point to the others.

I’m not much of a steampunk fan, but I appreciate the humor and zaniness of Carriger’s stories.  I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

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