Waistcoats & Weaponry: Finishing School, Book 3

Book review by
Julie A. Carlson, Common Sense Media
Waistcoats & Weaponry: Finishing School, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Fast-paced thrill ride with werewolves and steampunk fun.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Readers will learn about locomotives, class struggles, life and manners in Victorian society, and how the residents of England and Scotland sometimes dislike each other.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about the importance of friendship, listening to others (including your teachers), not spreading gossip and vicious rumors, and standing up for others when they don't have a voice. Help people in times of need, and don't put other people down due to their social standing or race. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sophronia's a smart, kind, and brave teen who will help anyone, even those who don't ask for help. She's loyal to her friends and listens to them and her teachers to improve her prospects in life. Her friends Dimity and Sidheag are independent and provide comic relief at tense moments. Swooth-worthy Soap, who's of African descent, will do anything for Sophronia. He takes adventure by the reins and is a fantastic role model for boys. He wants to improve his station in life by learning to read and trying to integrate into society, even if it means risking his life. Dashing Felix is loyal to Sophronia.

Violence

Waistcoats & Weaponry isn't filled with violence, but weapons are used, including a gun and a fan with razors. Two people are shot by the gun and injured. There's some hand-to-hand combat and pushing. There are werewolves and vampires.

Sex

Some flirting and kissing on the wrist and lips. Sophronia's torn between her romantic interest in Felix and her friendship with Soap. 

Language

Name-calling: "idiot" and "stupid."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Waistcoats & Weaponry is the exciting third book in the steampunk series that follows the adventures of Sophronia and her friends at a finishing school in Victorian London. There's a werewolf uprising, two people are shot by gunfire, and there's hand-to-hand combat. Romance is limited to mild flirtation and light kissing. 

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What's the story?

Sophronia and her friends Dimity and Sidheag are in their second year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. The hijinks continue, and so do the etiquette classes. Sidheag goes missing but quickly returns, concerned about a werewolf uprising among the packs. Sophronia and her friends worry that something darker is afoot, and she gains a new weapon: a deadly steel-tipped fan. The girls attend a luxurious masked ball and board a runaway train to return Sidheag to her werewolf pack. There are adventures at every turn and romance between Sophronia's two love interests: the dashing Lord Felix Mersey and her adorable, sooty friend, Soap. 

Is it any good?

WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY is top-notch good fun that builds on the previous two novels in the delightful Finishing School series. Fans of Gail Carriger's adult steampunk books will enjoy this YA series. It's daring and bold yet doesn't have as much sex and violence as many YA novels. There are enough quirky personalities and strong growth among the characters to keep readers intrigued and entertained. Sophronia's a terrific heroine any teen would love to have as a friend. 

Waistcoats & Weaponry doesn't disappoint, especially when it comes to the budding romance of Sophronia and Soap. And the cliffhanger ending assures readers will be eager for the next installment. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the genre is called steampunk. What role did steam play in Victorian society and technology?

  • There's mention of the English not liking the Scots and vice versa. How far back in history do these feelings go? Are they reflected in political clashes in the United Kingdom today?  

  • If you had the opportunity to attend a finishing school, would you? What would you want to learn?

Book details

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