Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger ★★★

Soulless by Gail Carriger
Genre: Steampunk
Series: The Parasol Protectorate #1
Publication Date: October 1, 2009
ISBN: 978-0316056632
Page Count: 384
Summary:

Alexia Tarabotti is labouring 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.

REVIEW


A DELIGHTFULLY RIDICULOUS STEAMPUNK MYSTERY.

This was a lot of fun to read. As if the frippery of Victorian England wasn't already utterly ridiculous in its own right, add in an outlandish vampire, a tasty Scottish alpha werewolf and a lady armed with a silver tipped parasol who definitely knows how to use it, and you are in for a fun little treat!

The writing style may not be to everyone's taste. The styling is very strong, very British, the vocabulary impressive and the tone witty and sarcastic. Some of the dialogue and opinions proffered do border on the ridiculous as I mention above (ridiculous seems to be the word of the day today, and very apt for this book), mainly regarding the delicate sensibilities of the London ton in this era. The straightness of one's cravat being of the utmost importance, much more so than being attacked by a rogue vampire for instance. A vampire that hadn't even bothered to introduce himself! Are you getting the general idea?

I did enjoy most of the poking fun at the attitudes of the times stuff, but some of it got on my nerves. Namely our main character's family. A bigger bunch of narrow minded idiots I have yet to encounter. The mother in particular was especially repugnant. I'm glad Alexia didn't let it bring her down too much.

Alexia Tarabotti is the main character in the book. She's a 26 year old spinster of Italian descent and has tanned skin (which apparently in this era makes her entirely unmarriageable, what with tanned skin currently being so unfashionable! Unfashionable skin? Somebody save me from the stupid, please). She also boasts an impressive full figure, which, again, is a big no no for the times. But it is, however, something that catches the eye of a certain aforementioned alpha werewolf. I really enjoyed these two together, and the romance was quite sweet. On a smut scale it would only be maybe a 1 or 2 out of 5, if you care about that sort of thing.

The mystery was probably the strongest element. I enjoyed this aspect a lot and was left guessing to the end.

The world-building was lacking quite substantially, however. It's fair to say I haven't got the biggest number of Steampunk novels under my belt to compare to, but from what I have read, this is incredibly Steampunk-lite. A couple of mentions of steam engines, gears, levers and an occasional dirigible was about the extent of it. So that was a little disappointing.

I haven't decided yet if I'm going to continue with the series, but I will check out some reviews to see the general consensus. I wasn't blown away enough for it to be an automatic addition to my shelf. For now, I will say that the story was wrapped up so nicely that you could easily read it as a stand alone and feel satisfied. Perhaps using it as an easy introduction to the Steampunk genre.

I give it 3 Stars ★★★

2 comments:

  1. I loved this book. Alexia was my favorite character by far. Her thought processes and observations were so funny and clinical. She was also reminiscent of Amelia Peabody from the series by Elizabeth Peters, which I also greatly enjoy. They are both strong female characters in a society where strength in the fairer sex is frowned upon and also use parasols as effective weapons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was lots of fun, I really liked the characters. I got scared off from continuing the series because some people seemed unhappy with something that happens in book two...

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