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If you recall my review of Etiquette & Espionage , I liked the setting and characters, but had a problem with what I considered a non-ending. Fortunately, I think Ms. Carriger has hit her stride with the second in the series.
Once again, Sophronia is aboard the floating finishing school, learning the not-all-together-different arts of society and espionage. Monique, the Picklemen, and the vampires all continue to cause trouble, but now with a new, greater threat: boys.
Mademoiselle Geraldine’s will be escorting a few Bunson students to London for the unveiling of a new technological marvel that has all the players in a twitter. And with no one telling her anything and a Duke's son paying special attention to her, Sophronia's launched into another complex plot involving two boys, violent sofas, explosive spiders, and career sabotage. Luckily she can always count on her friends...oh, wait.
The actual spy work is much tighter this time around. I love the test with the oddgob machine. It starts off very strange and disjointed, but once the grading starts and you can see Sophronia's thought process, it's brilliant. There's also a lot of investigation, eavesdropping, rumor planting, but I liked seeing the things the girls don't know, like codes and fighting. Gives the book a direction for the future.
I also like that the Picklemen are finally explained and their, and all the villainous parties, motives are much clearer. It's still not all wrapped up, the prototype is obviously going to be important through the whole series, but I was much happier with where we leave off.
But the book truly earns it's extra half star over book one for an amazing, delightful Lord Akeldama cameo that has me bubbling for Waistcoats and Weaponry, and the best description of a penis in the history of literature. I think Ms. Carriger's fans won't be disappointed.