Soulless (Parasol Protectorate #1)
by Gail Carriger
Publication Date: October 1st, 2009
Format: Kindle E-Book
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?
Review: Soulless, by Gail Carriger, is a book that first and foremost doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is not meant to be a window through to our corrupt society, or any sort of powerful message about our world. What it is, it is: a delightful romp through the whimsy and ridiculousness of steampunk, victoriana and romance.
Let us start with the main character, Miss Alexia Tarabotti: half-English, half-Italian, spinster, and soulless. Not that she’s amoral or anything, it’s a medical condition: she was born without a soul (it’s another thing she inherited from her father, like her nose). This has unique properties when dealing with supernatural entities, who have too much soul–she offsets their powers and can turn a vampire or a werewolf mortal as long as she’s touching them. Despite this, the BUR, something between a secret service and a police for the supernatural set, decline her help. She suspects it has something to do with the antagonism of one Lord Conall Maccon, Werewolf Alpha.
However, Alexia has a bigger problem than just her werewolf nemesis. You see, rogue vampires are appearing out of nowhere–and worse, they have such distressing manners. Alexia is determined to get to the bottom of things, even if that means annoying Lord Maccon even more than she usually does, and possibly putting her own life in danger in the process. She explores vampire hives, the company of her friend and vampire rogue Lord Akeldama, walks through the park with friend Ivy Hisselpenny, and avoiding a fiendish golem-like creature seemingly bent on killing her. And, despite the best efforts of them both, the antagonism between her and Lord Maccon turns into something…well, less antagonistic.
I enjoy how, despite making fun of quite a few stereotypes, there’s also a clear system. The whole preternatural-supernatural soul thing is well and concisely explained, as are various other tropes. Besides that, the characters are delightful. Alexia alone has enough force for about 3 people, and when you include Conall Maccon, let alone Lord Akeldama (a gay vampire–enough said), it’s a rousing cast.
Long story short, this is a hilarious book. I consider it to be something of a guilty pleasure read–quick-paced, long descriptions of fashion and food, many kissing scenes, and hilarity on every single page. Seriously, it’s a fantastically funny book.I also really enjoy how Gail Carriger doesn’t take herself too seriously. She acknowledges that steampunk, in and of itself, is a slightly ridiculous idea. Not that it isn’t enjoyable, far from it, but the person who thought it would be cool to have an exaggerated version of the Victorian Age must have had some humor as well. This book is written humorously, and you get the general impression that the author is not only teasing the genre, she’s also laughing a little at herself. But in general, it’s a book that’ll make you crack up the entire time you’re reading it, and make you want to read the further chronicles of Alexia Tarabotti and her Parasol Protectorate. Because, lord help, there are four more of them–perfect for a day of reading.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.