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Gail Carriger – Heartless

November 7, 2011

134. Heartless by Gail Carriger (2011)
The Parasol Protectorate, Book 4

Read my review of book:
1. Soulless
2. Changeless
3. Blameless

Length: 374 pages
Genre: Historical Steampunky Fantasy

Started / Finished: 22 October 2011 (Readathon! This was a great readathon book, too, very absorbing and fun and quick-reading, given its length.)

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I enjoyed the heck out of the first three, so I was definitely going to keep reading.

There’s no such thing as
maternity leave for the
lone Soulless in town.

Summary: Lady Alexia Macon is exceedingly pregnant, which would be trial enough without the constant attempts on her life perpetrated by London’s vampire community, who fear what her baby – the offspring of a soulless preternatural and a werewolf – will become. But with a plan in place for the baby to be adopted (at least in name and outward appearance) by Lord Akeldama, powerful rove vampire and Alexia’s friend, things have come to an uneasy truce. That settled, Alexia’s life is quickly thrown into turmoil again when she receives a warning from an insane ghost that she must protect the Queen. But from who… or what?

Review: I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The best part about it – apart from the general fun, lighthearted, slightly silly nature of the series as a whole, and the worldbuilding that continues to be inventive but believable, was the sense of balance. In previous books, the various elements and characters have not always been perfectly balanced. Either things are too steampunky, or not steampunky enough; or focusing too much on action without enough focus on the mystery, or vice versa; or shunting one character or one relationship to the background of the story. It’s never been enough to make me dislike the books, but there’s always been a slight feeling that part of Carriger’s story has gotten away from her.

That’s not the case in Heartless, however. The mystery, action, character development, and steampunk quirkiness were all given their due space, and all fit together quite neatly. The characters each got an appropriate amount of screen time as well, and I loved some of the little secrets that were revealed along the way, and how they cast a new light on the rest of the series. I particularly loved Biffy’s continuing storyline; it would drag down the tone of the book if it were front and center, but as a secondary plot thread it does a great job at injecting a little seriousness and pathos into the book, keeping it from becoming entirely frivolous. The only thing that I thought was off in this book was the very ending; it’s played like a huge cliffhanger, but it’s actually something that I figured out about a book and a half before. Still, I had a blast reading this book, as always, and am eagerly looking forward to March, when I can get my hands on Timeless. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: There are enough callbacks to things from earlier in the series, not to mention a lack of expository worldbuilding, that you really should start from the beginning, but the series as a whole is just plain ol’ lighthearted fun.

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

Other Reviews: I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read, Outlandish Dreaming, That’s What She Read, and more at the Book Blog Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Notation to the Records, Subject P-464-AT, Alexia Tarabotti.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • p. 137: “He was wearing royal blue breeches of watered silk, a damask waistcoat of white and gold, and a quilted velvet smoking jacket ornamented with brandenbourgs.” – Near as I can tell, these are similar to frog-closures?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 8, 2011 1:06 pm

    I really need to get back to this series. For some reason when I tried to read Blameless last month it wasn’t really working for me…

    • November 15, 2011 9:28 am

      Kailana – Blameless is my least favorite in the series so far, so I understand… but if you can push through, I thought Heartless was substantially better.

  2. November 13, 2011 6:06 pm

    I still haven’t read anything that could be labeled Steampunk. Odd that it is so popular and yet I’ve not run across anything of this genre yet.

    • November 15, 2011 9:33 am

      Debbie – I haven’t read a TON of Steampunk stuff, but there’s some great stuff out there. I’d recommend Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan as a fantastic place to start.

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