Gail Carriger – Soulless
120. Soulless by Gail Carriger (2009)
The Parasol Protectorate, Book 1
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Historical Fantasy with a hint of Steampunk, Romance
Started: 13 September 2011
Finished: 16 September 2011
Where did it come from? As resistant as I am to paying for e-books, I caved and downloaded the bundle of the first three books in the series. It was on sale for $10! I’m weak.
Why do I have it? I feel like I’ve been hearing about these books from everywhere since they came out, so I can’t pinpoint one person for blame with certainty. Possibly Memory’s fault?
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 13 September 2011.
A lack of soul is
not debilitating when
dealing with werewolves.
Summary: Alexia Tarabotti is willful, headstrong, half-Italian, and a spinster, but most damningly, she’s a preternatural. Unlike the supernaturals – vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, all of whom have an excess of soul – Alexia doesn’t have a soul at all, which means she is able to counteract supernatural powers with a touch. Her soulless nature is not exactly something she advertises, though, so when she accidentally kills a vampire in the library at a party, there’s the potential for a huge scandal. Lord Maccon, the Scottish Alpha of the London werewolf pack and head of the Bureau of Unnatural Registry, helps keep Alexia’s name out of the papers, but he’s got other things on his mind than just her reputation. Newborn vampires have been appearing with no knowledge of custom or protocol, and lone werewolves have been disappearing. Alexia is determined to help Lord Maccon get to the bottom of the mystery… if only he weren’t so distractingly handsome.
Review: I’m sorry I waited so long to start this series, because I just had oodles of fun with this book. I enjoyed pretty much everything about it; it’s a great blend of fantasy and romance and Victoriana and just a touch of steampunk, and the best part is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The whole thing is infused with a sly sense of humor that winks out at the reader from every page, so that even the overblown Victorian-esque prose feels fresh, and like it’s in on the joke.
Alexia decided, then and there, that Lord Conall Maccon clearly had only two modes of operation: annoyed and aroused. She wondered which one she would prefer to deal with on a regular basis. Her body joined in that discussion without shame, and she actually managed to shock herself into continued silence.
I honestly can’t think of a better descriptor for this book than “fun.” I was giggling almost constantly; the leads both have a wonderful snarky sense of humor, and Carriger’s clever twists on Victorian standards managed to be homage and send-up both. I loved that the romance-y parts managed to feel steamy without getting too anachronistically smutty; they mostly involve some pretty tame necking (although since it involves a werewolf rather than a vampire, perhaps “heavy petting” might be a more apt turn of phrase?).
There were a few points that I didn’t love as much. The narration is third-person omniscient, and the POV skips between characters from paragraph to paragraph. I understand the stylistic reasons for this choice, and I got used to it eventually, but I did find it rather distracting in parts. I also saw the solution to the mystery coming from a mile away, and thought that it could have been made a bit more detailed and complex. But really, on the whole I was having way too much fun with the rest of the story to mind much. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Fun stuff. Recommended for readers who like historical romance and/or urban fantasy, and are in the mood for something light-hearted and giggle-inducing.
Other Reviews: They are all over the internet. Check them out at the Book Blog Search Engine.
First Line: Miss Alexia Tarabotti was not enjoying her evening.
Vocab: (see the whole list)
- Location 101: “All its many layers of green trim, picked to the height of fashion in lightening shades to complement the cuirasse bodice, were being crushed into oblivion under her weight.” – Also called corselet; defensive armor for the torso comprising a breastplate and backplate, originally made of leather.
- Location 191: “She had to give credit to his valet, who must be a particularly tolerant claviger.” – One who carries the keys of any place. (It’s got a very specific additional meaning in the book, as well.)
- Location 1341: “Of course, they said the same thing about the dewan, Her Majesty’s werewolf advisor.” – any of certain officials, as a financial minister or prime minister of a native colony, specifically India. (Again, a very specific meaning in the book.)
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