Curtsies & Conspiracies: Finishing School, Book 2



Spectacular steampunk sequel has hijinks, gadgets, vampires.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Even though Curtsies & Conspiracies is set in a steampunk world, readers get a sense of what it was like to be a girl in the 1800s, when great emphasis was put on etiquette and manners. 

Positive messages

Strong messages about love, friendship, believing in yourself, trusting others, being honest, standing up for yourself and others, and treating others with kindness and respect, including people of color.

Positive role models

Sophronia is a fantastic heroine who's spunky, strong, independent, smart, and kind. She thinks on her feet, works hard at her studies, and tries to do her best at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy. She's also a good friend to Dimity and Vieve. She stands up for them and helps them in times of need and vice versa. She also doesn't let anyone put down her friend Soap, who works in the boiler room at the school. She gets along with most people, including her teachers. She knows how to take care of herself but also relies on her friends. Even though some of the girls at the academy make fun of her, she doesn't let that stand in her way of learning and doing her own thing. Sophronia knows who she is and is proud to be a student at the academy, and she's proud of her friends.


There's not much violence in Curtsies & Conspiracies. Some men try to kidnap a couple of the girls. The girls in the academy learn about sword fighting, poisons, and spying methods. It's a school to train assassins, after all. No one really wants to hurt anyone, but they will to protect themselves, their families, and their friends.


Mild flirting, a kiss on the cheek and lips.


The male character Soap is called a "darkie."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Curtsies & Conspiracies is the second book in Gail Carriger's bestselling Finishing School series about girls at a floating airship of a training school for assassins that operates under the guise of a finishing school for young ladies. As in the first book, Etiquette & Espionage, it's fun, entertaining, and thrilling and set in an alternate 1800s steampunk world filled with cool gadgets. There are hijinks, misadventures, pranks, some mild bickering but not much violence, except for when the characters learn sword fighting and poisoning to be assassins, as well as in an incident when some men try to kidnap two girls. There's no swearing, but the male character Soap is called a "darkie." There's mild flirting and a kiss. This volume touches more on politics and the rising tension between humans and supernaturals; vampires and werewolves are more prevalent here. But Curtsies & Conspiracies is mainly about friendship, love, and mystery. 

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

CURTSIES & CONSPIRACIES picks up where the first book, Etiquette & Espionage, left off with Sophronia and friends at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. The girls are continuing their training in how to be spies, assassins, and ladies. This time, Sophronia and crew are heading to London for the Season -- and a covert mission involving a conspiracy. Tension's rising among the humans and supernaturals, particularly the vampires. Sophronia gets involved in a conspiracy and other misadventures, including a ball.

Is it any good?


Author Gail Carriger hits it out of the ballpark with her follow-up to Etiquette & Espionage, her YA debut. In fact, Curtsies & Conspiracies is even better. Her wit, humor, clever dialogue, and unique plot and subplots sparkle, and, as in the first book, Carriger's characters and world come to life on the page. 

Readers will thoroughly enjoy Sophronia and her friends' adventures at the academy, as well as the budding romance between Sophronia and Soap, which continues and grows throughout the novel. Curtsies & Conspiracies touches more on politics and the rising tension between humans and supernaturals, with vampires and werewolves being more prevalent. After turning the last page, readers will be eager for the third book.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the Finishing School series. How does Curtsies & Conspiracies compare with the first book, Etiquette & Espionage? 

  • How do the politics and discrimination against supernatural creatures such as vampires and werewolves in Curtsies & Conspiracies relate to real life?

  • How do you like how the budding romance between Sophronia and Soap has progressed? Do you think Sophronia will finally get a clue?

Book details

Author:Gail Carriger
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Arts and dance, Friendship, Great girl role models, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires, Science and nature
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:November 11, 2013
Number of pages:320
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Curtsies & Conspiracies: Finishing School, Book 2 was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Write a user reviewThere aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?
Thanks – we appreciate your feedback!

Special Needs Guide