Steampunk, Young Adult

Book Talk: Etiquette and Espionage


A book talk is a short presentation that is neither a book review or a plot summary. Rather, the intention is to entice the potential reader with just enough information to convince them to pick up the book. This talk was designed to be given to a classroom of high school students.

Good morning young ladies and gentlemen. Welcome aboard our airship, home to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. And it is our pleasure to host the young men of Bunson and Lacroix’s Boys Polytechnique for Evil Geniuses.  I am Professor Lefoux, Deputy Headmistress. Now, some of you, like Miss Plumleigh-Teignmott, are legacy students. But for those of you, like Miss Temminnick, who are covert recruits, I would like to impress upon you that this is not your average finishing school. Do not mistake me; by the time you are finished, your curtsies will be impeccable, and your etiquette unparalleled. But we shall also be training you in the fine art of espionage. As young ladies of quality, you will be uniquely positioned to manipulate London society.

Some of you will find yourselves in service to Queen and Country, be it Queen Victoria’s Shadow Council, or the Bureau of Unnatural Registry. Many of you will go as drones to the vampire hives, or clavigers to the werewolf packs. If you are technically minded, or perhaps do not care for the supernatural, you might even throw in with the Picklemen. One day you shall have to declare your loyalties, but for now, please be assured we will prepare you for all of these eventualities.

As for the gentlemen of Bunson and Lacroix’s, welcome. I hope you are enjoying your sojourn aboard our dirigible. I know that as budding young inventors and evil geniuses, you will take this opportunity to study such a unique example of modern air transportation. And I am pleased to announce that after tea, I have arranged a special tour of the boiler rooms and furnaces with one of our sooties, Mr. Phineas Crow. This section is, at all other times, off limits to students.

But a word of caution before we begin our social event. Do not get too comfortable there next to Miss Temminnick, young Lord Mersey. I would remind you all that the relationship between our two schools exists purely for the purpose of practicing social graces. There will be no fraternizing. Am I understood?

Excellent. Now, I understand you may have experienced some excitement on your journey here today. I will not abide wild tales about flywaymen, or stolen prototype devices, or any other such nonsense. I urge you to leave this matter to your professors, and focus on your studies. If you do not apply yourselves, you may find yourselves in the shoes of Miss Pelouse, who has been sent down to rejoin the debut class after failing to pass her finishing exam. Take care not to repeat her mistakes.

And now, I believe tea is served. Do mind your table manners.


Also by Gail Carriger:

Prudence (Young Adult)


More Steampunk:

Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson


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