This book was good but it was better than I expected it to be.
I'm not one for steampunk books. I just don't like all the gadgets and inventions. The descriptions of these things confuse me and its hard to picture the gadgets and inventions in my mind. While the things can do awesome things, I don't like how technical everything is. This genre is just not for me.
However that being said, the book was not just steampunk. It was also a spy book where the girls in the school were being trained in espionage. There was also a bit of paranormal in there with the mix of vampires and werewolves. I was able to deal with the steampunkiness (ha!) of the book so I could continue reading.
The basic synopsis of the story is that Sophronia's mother is fed up with her antics and sends her off to finishing school. However the school that Sophronia is sent to also teaches the girls the fine art of espionage and basically murder as well as how to do these things while still being a lady (its set in the Victorian era). Tied into this plot is that there is some protoype of some kind that is important to the school and no one knows where its hidden. So Sophronia takes it upon herself, along with friends, to find out all the information she can on the prototype and find it.
I really liked Sophronia. She is spunky, brave, daring and hilarious. She is an adventurer and should of been born a boy. When she sets her mind to something there she will achieve it. She is unlike any of the "proper" girls. She loves to climb and explore. Her mind is sharp and she comes up with elaborate plans that she can carry off. She is also able to think on the spot. She uses what she is taught in the finishing school to get away with things she does in the school. She also befriends various people including a sootie named Soap, even though he is way below her station/ranking. I like how Sophronia doesn't care about the color of people's skin, their rank is society or anything else like that. She befriends them as long as they have a good heart and are kind people.
Dimity is Sophronia's best friend and cares very much about being a proper lady. Some of the things that Sophronia does shocks Dimity. But I like how loyal Dimity is to Sophronia. I also like Professor Braithwope. He is a vampire and a gentleman at that. He is very fashionable with a funny mustache. He teaches vampire lore as well as history as some etiquette. I like his accent where he always saying "Whot whot"? I also like Captain Niall who is a werewolf. I liked his lessons on knives and how he gets the girls on to the school. He is also very handsome by his description.
I like the finishing school in general and what the girls are taught. It was awesome to see how fainting can help women spies kill or distract someone. We also get a glimpse of how eggs can be used to poison someone and how the girls can hide weapons in the huge dresses they have to wear.
Sophronia's antics are entertaining to read and the book keeps the reading thinking "Is she gonna get caught? Is she gonna get away with it?". Some of her plans are crazy and its amazing to read how she does everything. Of course things don't always go smoothly for her and she has to think on her feet and come up with ways to make her plans work.
There was no romance in the book but you can see some starting to bud between Sophronia and another character. Maybe there will be one in the next book. Although it may be too soon because Sophronia is only 14. Who knows?
This review is also posted on Spantalian's Book Reviews