What’s it about?
Etiquette and Espionage is about a fourteen-year-old girl in an alternate steampunk Victorian universe. She is, of course, uncouth and adventuresome. She also, of course, gets sent to a finishing school to become a proper young lady. Said finishing school will also teach her to be a spy and assassin. There’s a macguffin being chased to provide a plot, but this one’s mostly about the setting.
Why should you read it?
It’s charming! It doesn’t take itself seriously (there are werewolves in top hats for crying out loud) and it has a sense of humor. Plus, I am always a fan of young women taking control of their lives. The only major theme that should be called out is: appearances matter. What you look like makes a difference. It’s presented, though, as a tool: if you want people to think you are from the country (as opposed to the city) you shouldn’t be wearing the latest fashions. If you dress like a slob, people will make assumptions about your competence. Form is function, to a degree. This doesn’t detract from the book’s appeal though – there’s no objectification going on, and it fits nicely. Overall, a winner.