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Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Publisher: Orbit
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction, mystery/suspense, fantasy, steampunk
Paperback, 384 pages
Book Source: the library
My Rating: 94/100
Book 1 of the Parasol Protectorate

From Amazon:

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?

My Thoughts:

Alexia Tarabotti is my kind of girl.  She is witty, a bit sassy, doesn't take herself too seriously, and enjoys the relative freedom she has from being declared a spinster.  Her family has given up on her ever marrying and she is pleased as punch.  Alexia thinks for herself and educates herself on otherworldly matters, often butting her nose in where it does it belong.

This book is set in steam punk Victorian London, where werewolves, vampires, and ghosts are equal members of the realm.  The supernatural beings have specific rules they must follow, and the steam punk is not in your face.  It is mentioned and described as casually as one might describe a stroll through the park.  The steam punk fits in well with Victorian London, because so many inventive and supernatural things were going on at the time.  It is indeed a logical choice, and one that enhances the story.

Speaking of which, there is a mystery that Alexia assists in solving and the wrap up of that was surprising.  The villains are another great logical choice and totally plausible in the story.  I must admit though, I was so interested in reading the book and becoming familiar with the characters, that I sometimes forgot there was a mystery.  I can only imagine what book two in the series brings. 

With respect to those darling characters, they were all so easy to conjure in my mind and the dialogue only seemed to enhance them.  It helped to pull the characters together for me.  I was going to say who my favorite character was, but now that I think about it, I liked them all.  Lord Akeldama is a riot and dear old vampire.  From his dandy dressing ,to being the know it all, above it all, whenever he was in the story I chuckled, but also had to read between the lines.  Akeldama is someone you want on your side.

Lord Maccon and his assistant were well matched with respect to their characters and their werewolf attributes.  Lord Maccon being the alpha male, and a bit sloppy and snarly, with his beta male Lyall,  being neat and well put together.  Opposites who work well together.  This story has all of these supernaturals running around and yet, Lord Maccon and Alexia must also remember society's rules.  Propriety and all of that.  Makes it fun and gives everything a light air.

All in all this was a fun read and I totally enjoyed it.  Again this was another book that made me long for a cup of tea, and yes treacle tart. I just may try to make that some day.  I look forward to Book 2 and reading some of the fascinating things on Carriger's blog.  Do check it out.  I think she just might be Alexia in the flesh.

2011 Challenges Met: Mystery & Suspense, HF