Curtsies & Conspiracies: Finishing School, Book 2

Book review by
Julie A. Carlson, Common Sense Media
Curtsies & Conspiracies: Finishing School, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Spectacular steampunk sequel has hijinks, gadgets, vampires.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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 & Representations

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."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymlkmnsgrl March 1, 2019

Subtle and not so subtle content

Be aware that in addition to innocuous flirting and boy-girl interactions, there is a scene in which a girl views naked bathing boys from a distance and feels d... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byedensage May 19, 2019


I initially read the first book in the series and enjoyed it, I like the time period it is set in and it is different than other steampunk/spy-type books. This... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byLeigha0811 December 7, 2017

Mild concerns

The book itself is good. I like the steampunk element, and the idea is really interesting. The style of writing is also pretty neat. There are a couple of theme... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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Themes & Topics

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