Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: November 5th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
oes one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?
Sophronia’s first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy (won’t Mumsy be surprised?). Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.
Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers’ quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship’s boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot–one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.
It is not a common occurrence for me to find myself so conflicted by a book. On the one hand, I like how the development of the characters is progressing but on the other hand, I deplore the actions taken by the protagonist. In fact, I am disturbed by these actions and despite the protagonist reflecting on her actions and feeling remorse for what she did, I still am not convinced that she has completely redeemed herself – or whether it is even possible to redeem oneself from actions that have such horrible consequences. I don’t know whether that was the author’s intention or my subjective reading (and interpretation).
If I were writing a review for a publication, I would focus more on the technical aspects such as pacing etc. but as this review is for my blog and I tend to be more informal and intimate, I feel at ease discussing the details of the novel. Sophronia is an interesting character but like before, she reads way older than her age (14) and comports herself in a manner more suited to girls way older than her age. And though she is not aware of it, she is quite charming, especially to members of the other sex. There is a bit of romance going on and the love triangle is completely perplexing given the strict social class divisions – I am not sure how her attraction to one of the boys will work out but it is refreshing to have a person of colour as a love interest in a period piece. That said, I wasn’t too impressed with the way the other dude was handled.
The friendship between the girls was a strength of this novel and the plot was tightly drawn out. I enjoyed the book initially but left it feeling rather unsettled. I am curious to see what adventures Sophronia goes on next but I hope the romance remains at the periphery of the series because really, their exploits are so much fun without the whole moaning and swooning spoiling it.