Decorum and Dirigibles: A review of Soulless by Gail Carriger

PrintTitle: Soulless (Parasol Protectorate #1)
Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: Steampunk / Alternate History / Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: October 1st, 2009
Kindle Edition: 388 Pages
Source: Personal Purchase

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

“How ghastly for her, people actually thinking, with their brains, and right next door. Oh, the travesty of it all.”

I meant for this to be a review of Prudence. I even started reading it. However, the first chapter made no sense. The second, even less. I decided I had to go back and read the Parasol Protectorate.

After my self-inflicted Prudence confusion, I didn’t have high expectations for Soulless. I worried that it would be equally confusing and I would have to trudge through it in order to write this review. Boy was I wrong. My only complaint was that chapter one, while witty, was a tad awkward. Carriger made up for this in chapter two and never looked back. Neither did I.

Soulless is a clever and witty combination of genres. Steampunk and Alternate History tend to go hand in hand, but tossing Urban Fantasy into the mix is unique. And it works well. Dandy vampires and werewolves in waistcoats work out beautifully. Add in a cute, occasionally rude romance and the book just sings.

Carriger’s mix of genres isn’t the only thing unique about Soulless. Her depiction of supernatural hierarchy and social integration is new and interesting. This isn’t the first series where supernaturals live openly in society. But this is the first one I have seen that explores their regulation and official involvement in government. I loved how well this was explored and look forward to seeing growth throughout the series.

All in all this is a cute and quirky novel that will have you hooked. I read the book in one sitting, finishing it in the wee hours of the morning. I just couldn’t put it down. Knowing that there are four more books left in the series, excites me to no end. Expect reviews of the entire series and Prudence in the very near future. I doubt I will be able to pace myself with this series.

AESTHETICS

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