This series is set about twenty five years before Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate books, with the same zany steampunk atmosphere and sense of fun.
In this case, it’s set at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. Sophronia is sent there when her mother despairs of ever turning her into a lady. Problem is, Sophronia would much rather be tearing around the stables, deconstructing the dumbwaiter, or generally figuring out what’s going on.
Sophronia is horrified by the idea until she gets to school – it turns out they’re teaching spying, assassination, and other generally unladylike things (in addition to all the arts necessary to fit into polite society).
Sophronia has soon made some friends, some enemies, and found herself in the middle of a plot of find a mysterious missing prototype. It’s all good fun, as I expect Carriger’s books to be. (I think I may actually like these books better than the Parasol Protectorate. The school setting is a hoot.)