Book three of the Finishing School series
By Gail Carriger
Available now from Little, Brown BFYR (Hachette)
Read my review of Curtsies & Conspiracies
The penultimate book in the Finishing School series is witty and exuberant. I love spending time with these characters, and Gail Carriger finds a way to trap all of the best ones in a small space together (wearing terrible disguises). At the same time, while it has the best character interaction yet, the plot is a let down. There are some vague intimations as to the ongoing supernatural struggles, but very little is actually figured out. WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY felt like filler before the end, aside from one major development.
I don't necessarily think focusing more on the characters is a bad thing. Because the Finishing School series is set 25 years before the Parasol Protectorate series, there isn't much mystery as to how the power struggle works out. What Sophronia chooses to do with her life, and who she chooses to live it with, is a mystery. On that level, WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY more than delivers.
It is always hard to review one of the latter books in a series, especially in a series that revolves around secrets. Needless to say, if you are a Finishing School fan, you won't be disappointed. If you aren't a fan, I recommend starting at book one (ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE) or at least book two (CURSIES & CONSPIRACIES). In a book with this much character payoff, you need the setup. I do recommend starting this series if you enjoy spies, steampunk, ridiculous disguises, convoluted plans, and girls determined to make the best of their options in life. This series is excellent frothy fun.