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Gail Carriger – Changeless

October 14, 2011

125. Changeless by Gail Carriger (2010)
The Parasol Protectorate, Book 2

Read my review of book:
1. Soulless

Length: 400 pages
Genre: Historical Steampunk Fantasy

Started: 25 September 2011
Finished: 27 September 2011

Where did it come from? Downloaded the three-book bundle from Amazon.
Why do I have it? I had a lot of fun with the first book in the series, and couldn’t wait to dive into the second.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 13 September 2011.

Being human’s a
nuisance, especially if
one’s out of practice.

Summary: Alexia Maccon, née Tarabotti, has had to get used to a lot of changes very quickly. She’s learning how to be a wife, the female in charge of a pack of werewolves, and the preternatural advisor to Queen Victoria. Just as she thinks she’s getting settled, though, a major crisis rears its head: there appears to be a plague of humanization in London. Within the affected area, werewolves are unable to shift, vampires lose their fangs, and ghosts are immediately exorcised. Since those are effects that are normally associated with a preternatural’s touch, and since Alexia is the only preternatural in England, she’s determined to get to the bottom of things… but to do so, she’ll have to head to Scotland, where her husband has traveled to deal with “family business” of his former pack.

Review: This book was every bit as much fun as Soulless, and has left me dying to dive into Blameless. The tone has shifted a little bit from the first book, and while I missed some of the elements that were downplayed, I enjoyed the new parts just as much. Changeless had less romance – or at least fewer overtly romance-y bits, although I still find that watching Alexia and Lord Maccon flirt with each other is thoroughly charming – but I thought the increased focus on the mystery led to a more complex story than in Soulless. The mystery overall was handled really well: some things I figured out as the story progressed, some I didn’t see coming but made sense once they were explained. The ending was similarly unexpected, but fit with the story and characters as established thus far, and is a hell of a cliffhanger; it took all my willpower to keep from tearing into the third book long enough to write this review.

The writing is just as good as in the first book, too; all Victorian and proper in feel while simultaneously being filled with absurdity and snark. (I laughed out loud more than once, and was quietly giggling to myself for most of it.) The only issue I had was that the steampunk-y-ness (steampunkitude?) of the story was really heavily dialed up in this book as compared to the first one. I like steampunk as a genre well enough, but I prefer it when it’s used as a flavor rather than a focus. There are a few places in Changeless where I felt like Carriger got carried away describing the aetheromagnetic whatsits and it started to distract me from the story. Travel by dirigibles is sufficient for setting; I don’t need every gear and lever described. But that’s a pretty minor quibble; overall, this book is silly and fun and I enjoyed it to (small, cog-shaped) pieces. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: There’s a lot of world-building in Soulless that’s only lightly (or not at all) recapped in Changeless, so read them in order. But the series as a whole is hilarious, fast-paced, and good fun for anyone who likes historical fantasy and steampunk and needs a little brain candy.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Ooodles of them, at the Book Blog Search Engine.

First Line: “They are what?”

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • Location 6160: “And such hats – caps of embroidered batiste with Mechlin lace, Italian straw sheperdesses, faille capotes, velvet toques that put Ivy’s flowerpot to shame, and outrageous pifferaro bonnets – dangled everywhere.” – a fine, often sheer fabric, constructed in either a plain or figured weave and made of any of various natural or synthetic fibers; a close-fitting, caplike bonnet worn by women and children in the mid-Victorian period; an Italian strolling musician who plays the piffero (or presumably the hat worn by such players?).

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2011 11:38 am

    If/when I ever get to this series, i will forever think of you. :)

    • October 21, 2011 9:38 am

      Care – Heh, thanks! I love being to blame for causing other people to pick up books that I (and hopefully they) enjoy!

  2. October 15, 2011 6:02 am

    This series is so fun! I actually attempted to read book 3 earlier this month, though, and it just wasn’t working for me.. I am disappointed. I will have to try again soon!

    • October 21, 2011 9:39 am

      Kailana – Yeah, the third book doesn’t quite have the spark of the first two, but it’s got enough good bits that I think it’s worth it.

  3. Chris permalink
    October 15, 2011 2:36 pm

    There is a lot of good clothing vocab in these books. I was keeping a list, too. Great review!

    • October 21, 2011 9:40 am

      Chris – Sometimes it seems like half of my vocab list is clothing related!

  4. October 16, 2011 3:34 am

    Sounds like I really need to read this second book! I thought the first novel didn’t have enough to the steampunk detailing, so maybe this aspect will work for me.

    • October 21, 2011 9:40 am

      Kay – Ooh, definitely worth a try! There is some serious steampunkery that is pretty integral to the plot of this one.

  5. October 16, 2011 12:55 pm

    I love the cover of this book so much. I think I left the same comment on your review of the first one in the series :)

    • October 21, 2011 9:42 am

      Kim – I’m still undecided about the covers. I like the idea and the images, but don’t like the title treatment. Also, something about the woman’s expression on this one just seems not quite right to me.

  6. October 16, 2011 5:05 pm

    I have been waffling on whether to go on to the third book or not, despite the cliffhanger. Lord Maccon didn’t charm me at all this go round; I thought he was thoroughly obnoxious for most of the book! I agree that there was too much technical detail for the reader who was primarily there for the humor (especially in the dialogue and in Alexia’s keen eye for some things and obliviousness to others) and the romantic comedy elements of the story. Your enthusiasm is contagious, though, so I may go on to read Blameless after all…

    • October 21, 2011 9:43 am

      Laurie – If nothing else, Lord Maccon is mostly absent for much of Blameless, so it might work for you in that respect. :)

  7. October 17, 2011 11:52 am

    I love the idea of this series but I started reading Soulless and it doesn’t do it for me. Glad you’re loving it!

    • October 21, 2011 9:45 am

      Joanna – Yeah, it’s not for everybody; I recommended it to one of my friends, sure she’d love it, and she couldn’t get past the writing style. Different strokes, I guess.

  8. October 25, 2011 12:41 am

    I just started reading these and Changeless was for me even better than Soulless, the more we get of Ivy Hissellpenny the better as far as I’m concerned. Looking forward to Blameless.

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