Cora Bell is the assistant of Lord White of the House of Parliament who likes to secretly invent things in his spare time.
Nellie Harrison is the assistant of The Great Raheem, a popular magician in London’s high and low societies.
Michiko is the assistant of Callum, a self-defense instructor who works in London’s high society.
On one fateful night after a gala, all three girls meet over a murder. They band together to not just solve the murder that brought them together, but to save London.
I read a post by Adrienne Kress on John Scalzi’s The Big Idea segment featuring this book, and what Ms. Kress had to say intrigued me. Girls who can kick butt without giving up their femininity? I’m on board. When I finally read the book, the tropes felt very familiar. The best I can phrase this is by using the Powerpuff Girls. Cora is Blossom, the leader and smart one who holds the trio together. Nellie is Bubbles, prone to smiling and much more than a pretty face. Michiko is Buttercup, direct and more likely to use a fist to solve things.
Now take these tropes and put them into a London steampunk setting, add a little 90’s Girl Power flair, and you have this book. It is a fantastically fun book to read. The prose and dialogue are very modern, which I don’t mind. I feel writing this book in Victorian-era jargon would have not only been lost on today’s teenaged audience but felt like the book was hitting you in the head with feminism.
Although the book is littered with 90’s tropes, I still found The Friday Society very entertaining. There’s some witty dialogue, some romance on the side (though it wasn’t overpowering, thank goodness), and the hint that there could be more adventures in the future. In a way, it’s almost a blast to the past, paying homage to the wave of feminism where a woman can kick your butt then fix her lipstick and replace the stiletto heel she lodged in your chest. The book does not dismiss femininity in order to have kick-ass female characters, and I really appreciate that.
In the end, I only managed to predict one plot twist (out of two). That makes me happy.
This is a very fun read; I wouldn’t recommend it if you are looking for something heavy or in-depth. The Friday Society is a book to read in the small pieces of time you get throughout your life–waiting for the bus, on break at work, while you eat a meal, waiting for your henchmen to laugh at your jokes, etc.