Manners & Mutiny is the fourth and final installment in Gail Carriger’s FINISHING SCHOOL series for teens (though as you can see from my reviews, adults will enjoy this, too!). This has been one of my favorite fantasy series in the last few years, so I’m sad to see it end. Fortunately, Carriger’s most-loved characters tend to show up in her other series, which are all set in the same supernatural England.
Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Ladies of Quality is, literally, a finishing school. Its ladies are taught how to “finish” other people, presumably enemies of the queen. At this point, Sophronia, Dimity, Agatha and their friends are close to completing their studies. They have learned many important espionage and finishing skills such as how to properly dress and accessorize in such a way as to hide all the weapons they need to carry, plan a dinner party and arrange the tables so that guests can be discreetly assassinated, pretend to faint so that something can be stolen, prepare (and possibly poison) tea, seduce a gentleman to acquire intelligence, and flirt or send coded messages with bladed fans.
It’s been an interesting few years for Sophronia and her friends. Due to Sophronia’s curious nature, they’ve managed to discover several plots against the Crown and, with some help from the boys of Bunson and Lacroix’s Boys’ Polytechnique (where boys are being trained to be evil geniuses), a few supernatural creatures, and the black boy who works in the boiler room, they have been able to thwart the bad guys every time. The last time, though, something terrible happened, and Sophronia’s relationships with the two boys she likes were altered, and she is not sure what the future holds for any of them.
Now it’s almost time for Christmas break during their final year in the academy but, before they leave the floating airship which houses their school, they will attend a ball at Bunson and Lacroix’s Boys’ Polytechnique. Their assignment, while there, is to impersonate one of their classmates. As Sophronia is pretending to be Agatha, a wall-flower, she learns of an imminent threat to England — something related to the events in the previous book. Thus begins another madcap adventure which will have Sophronia running around unchaperoned as she utilizes all her education (and an exploding wicker chicken) to, once again, save her country.
Fans of this series will adore Manners & Mutiny. It’s got everything we love about FINISHING SCHOOL — spunky young female protagonists, lots of action, plenty of humor, and a little bit of romance. There are even a couple of delightful surprises that we didn’t see coming. My only complaint is that the series is over. I will definitely be missing the adventures of the ladies of Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Ladies of Quality.
I listened to the audio versions of FINISHING SCHOOL which were produced by Hachette Audio and read by British actress Moira Quirk. These were some of the best audio performances I’ve ever heard. (And I listen to over 150 audiobooks every year.) You will be missing out if you don’t try this series in audio format. If you’re not an audio reader, I challenge you to try this series. I think it might convert you. You can listen to a sample of the first book, Etiquette & Espionage here. Manners & Mutiny is 10 hours long.
Finishing School — (2013-2015) Young adult. Publisher: It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School. Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish… everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but the also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education. Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail’s legions of fans have come to adore.