The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress – Advance Review

Book Jacket:

An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns – and the heroines who use them all.

Set in Edwardian London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder – and the crimes they believe may be connected to it – without calling too much attention to themselves.

Told with Adrienne Kress’s sharp wit and a great deal of irreverence, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike – well, relatively ladylike – heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.

You can read an excerpt here.


There’s something about this book you should know going in: it ain’t historical fiction, and it ain’t all that steampunky either. No, The Friday Society is pure pulp, a sheer romp cover to cover – so if you’re in the mood for mindless fun, look no further.

The example that springs to mind when it comes to this book is The League of Extraordinary Gentleman – or maybe Wild Wild West; this book too is, well, mildly historical (in wardrobe, at least), and it too slings ridiculous gadgetry left and right as Heroic Heroes battle Dastardly Villains whilst The Fate Of The World hangs in the balance! There’s action a-plenty, girl power galore, quips left, right, and center, and somewhat ridiculous yet still harrowing comic-book-style adventure. All in all in makes for a fun read – though I do think you have to be in the right mood to enjoy it.

As for our leading ladies, well, I’m always a fan of intrepid heroines fighting the good fight, and these three ladies certainly have no lack of gumption, or uncannily useful expertise, to employ. I liked all three perfectly well – all are smart and able, and there is something undeniably fun in the assistants being the unsung heroes – but as with any pulp story, we never really go all that deep with any of them. Still, of the three I found Michiko to be far and away the most interesting (though to be fair, I do have a rather large soft spot for girls who can sling a katana). While all three girls grapple with insecurities, Michiko is the only one who confronts her ingrained, core beliefs, and who takes significant strides towards figuring out who she wants to be – of the three, she’s really the only one who has a character arc (though admittedly the curve isn’t all the steep), and as a result she was the one I cared about the most. But still, all three ladies work perfectly well as action heroines – all are plucky and brave, and of course all have the perfect accoutrements – and so I was perfectly willing to follow the merry POV swapping back and forth between the three of them.

As for the plot, well, it’s basically a madcap whirlwind. There isn’t terribly all that much logic to it all – it’s mostly just wildly invented hares that bound out of left field for our ladies to chase, but it did by and large make for a merrily unpredictable romp (save for one heavily telegraphed bit). Altogether things moved along smoothly, and at a good clip, and there was a nice sense of danger throughout, not to mention plenty of skulking, sneaking, spying, and bashing of heads. So yes, basically this is an action movie kind of read.

In the end, this book is unabashedly a popcorn read – and a fun one at that. Girly without being emo, perky without being obnoxious, light-hearted without being saccharine, all in all it’s just a girl-power, butt-kicking kind of story. This book is here to entertain you – and it will. Just don’t expect more from it than that.

Byrt Grade: A-

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Kirkus Reviews says:

Steampunk meets Charlie’s Angels…Frothy, sparkly fun with no substance, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

Publishers Weekly says:

This mostly successful tale combines humor and menace in equal proportion, though the narrative voice flouts the language of Kress’s Edwardian setting…

The Book Lantern says:

Dear Michiko, You are the best part of this book…Kress, if you’re reading this letter to your character, rewrite this novel. Do it for me. Tell it solely from Michiko’s POV. Write the novel that Stormdancer wanted to be. The series that The Legend of Korra wanted to be. Yours, Cory