Review: Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Sunday, May 24, 2015
Title: Waistcoats & Weaponry
Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: fantasy, steampunk
Series: Finishing School #3
Pages: 298
Published: November 4, 2014
Source: Purchased
Rating: 4 out of 5

Class is back in session....

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 hijack a suspiciously empty train to return their chum Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. But when Sophronia discovers they are being trailed by a dirigible of Picklemen and flywaymen, she unearths a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos. With her friends in mortal danger, Sophronia must sacrifice what she holds most dear--her freedom.

You know it’s a Gail Carriger book when you read about fighting on top of a train, werewolf bites, and lovers’ betrayal and think, “is that it?”

Don’t get me wrong, Waistcoats and Weaponry is still funny, exciting, and full of charm, it just feels a little muted compared to the werewolf attack, Hive infiltration, snapping tethers of Curtsies & Conspiracies.

My biggest problem is the setting. Where Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is a small space, Carriger always makes it feel mysterious and rife for exploration. Too much of this book takes place off school grounds and aboard an empty train. The conflict revolves too much around Soap and Felix sniping at each other and not enough about the Vampires vs. Picklemen, Round 2.

My second biggest problem is that in an effort to set up the Parasol Protectorate books, the cast of secondary characters is rapidly dwindling. This book needs Vieve, but she’s off at Bunson’s learning to be the evil scientist Alexia knows and loves. Sidheag is on her way back to Scotland to set up the events of Changeless. I love Dimity, but she can’t carry a whole adventure. And now with the love triangle more or less resolved, I have no idea who’s left for the last book.

The wit and humor are still there, evidenced by lines like, “Felix ran his hands through his dark hair, sounding like a resigned maiden aunt. ‘It’ll all end in tears and coal dust, you see if it doesn’t.’,” so I do still recommend continuing the series. The end was still a gut punch, and Sophronia’s new loyalties certainly set new plots in motion. It’s just all become a bit expected.

“Sophronia nodded, decision made. ‘Good. I think we should steal this train.’
Possibly as a result of being restless, possibly because they were accustomed to her outrageous ideas, there was no outcry at such a bold statement. Sophronia was a little disappointed.”

Me too, Sophronia.

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