Book Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger (Parasol Protectorate #1)
First Published: October 1st. 2009
Genre: Steampunk, Paranormal, Historical, Romance
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire—and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?
SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.
Vampires and werewolves and… a woman with a parasol? Oh my! This is the first steam-punk novel I’ve ever read and I have to say I was plesantly surprised. Historical fiction is not generally my cup of tea but this novel has taken the things I like from the Victorian age (corsets and witty spinsters) and combined them with the supernatural. I am a fan.
The heart and soul of this novel (so to speak) is Alexia Tarabotti – on the outskirts of polite society due to her dark skin, slightly too big nose and her love of science and logical conversation. I loved her. She’s clever, daring and for her own sake should probably try to keep control of her tongue but for entertainment purposes, I’m glad she doesn’t. In the first chapter alone, Miss Tarabotti manages to vanquish a vampire with only a hair pin and her trusty parasol and she still manages to lament the loss of a treacle tart. I’m not used to reading about heroines in a historical fiction who can take control of the situation and kick butt whilst still trying to make sure their outfits are in pristine condition.
In between finding out what has happened to the vampires, there’s also a romantic plot brewing in this story. I enjoyed how Carriger developed the relationship between Alexia and Lord Maccon. It was at times scandalous but anything else would have felt untrue to Miss Tarabotti’s character.
The supporting cast were brilliant. Between Alexia’s butler, Lord Maccon’s beta and the fabulously flamboyant Lord Akeldama and his drones there is hardly a dull moment. I am looking forward to reading the other books in this series if only to see more of these characters – and to hopefully find out what exactly is the deal with the octopuses.
4 out of 5
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