April's Reviews > Soulless

Soulless by Gail Carriger
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** spoiler alert ** My brother has made me do this to help strengthen my writing skills. And the sucker is that I have to turn it in to him like homework so he can evaluate it! At least until he thinks my writing is good to his standards. He wants me to pick at the book and write the roles of the characters and conflicts and so forth. So this is definitely full of spoilers. It's like if you want a 2 page short version of the book, though without all of Carriger's wonderful writing. Yes, I did censor out all the steamy or even relatively steamy parts and forgive me but I've forgotten some details of the book as I've been reading other books while writing this review. All of this just goes to say "Read Soulless!" Don't read all of this. Just don't. It's way too long. :)

Miss Alexia Tarabotti, the protagonist, is a spinster at the age of 26, which means she is over the prime age for marrying. Reasons for this include that she is very independent, intelligent, dark-skinned (being pale like a vampire seems to be very fashionable during this time), and half-Italian.

Soulless starts off with Miss Tarabotti accidentally killing a new, fang-lisped vampire after he attacks her at a ball. Lord Maccon, the friendly neighborhood Alpha werewolf who is also Captain of the Bureau of Unnatural Registry (the supernatural sort of police), rushs when he hears screams to find Miss Tarabotti facking unconsciousness. Now, of course, Miss Tarabotti is piqued with interest at why the vampire attacked her and why he didn't know who she was, as every new vampire is immediately told about the only soulless person in the city, Miss Tarabotti, or otherwise the only person who can neutralize any supernatural by simply touching them. Miss Tarabotti attempts to push her way into the newly-formed case of the deceased vampire, but Lord Maccon and Miss Tarabotti have always been at odds with each other and anyways Lord Maccon would never allow a simple civilian into police business.

As Miss Tarabotti goes over the events of the day with her dearest friend, Miss Hisselpenny, in the park, they are stopped by a drone of the city's Hive Queen or a human servant who is being trained to become a vampire. The drone hands over a personal invitation from the Hive Queen to Miss Tarabotti to come see her.

Miss Tarabotti converses with Lord Akeldama, a friend who also happens to be a gay and very flamboyant vampire that is always in the know, and Lord Maccon for advise better meeting with the Hive Queen because Miss Tarabotti knows that nothing good can come from a meeting with the Hive Queen of the vampires who call her a "soul-sucker" and absolutely despise her and her kind because her ancestors used to hunt vampires. Lord Akeldama, for once, actually seems to know less than Miss Tarabotti on the subject of these new vampires popping up for no reason. In the end, though, he tells Miss Tarabotti that the Hive Queen either wants information from her, thinking that Miss Tarabotti knows more, or wants to kill her to take her out of the situation.

The day comes before she knows it and actually goes suprisingly well for Miss Tarabotti. The Hive Queen appears to be completely clueless over the whole thing. She is the only Hive Queen in the area and only, only a Hive Queen can even make a vampire, so just the possibility of another vampire appearing without her knowledge is causing her great unease and fright. The Hive Queen, left with no options, no way to go about solving the problem, resolves to do the last thing she ever thought she would do, she involves a soul-sucker into vampire business to find out what's going on. Miss Tarabotti also finds out from a maid of the house that vampire masters have been going missing as well as new vampires appearing around the city. Then as Miss Tarabotti is leaving, a man tries to kidnap her using a napkin soaked in something to knock her out with a not-so-alive man with the letters XVI on his forehead as a sidekick. Miss Tarabotti is saved by Lord Maccon who as it happens followed her there to keep an eye on her and make sure she doesn't get in too much trouble.

Lord Maccon and Miss Tarabotti conclude that someone is out to get her, obviously, and Lord Maccon sets up a 24-hour bodyguard routine for her. That night, Miss Tarriboti witnesses a fight out her window between her bodyguards and a few other men, including the one with the XVI on his forehead. XVI comes close to getting her and if it were not for some human police patrolling by, causing the attackers to run off, XVI would've probably gotten Miss Tarabotti through the window.

Miss Tarabotti meets an interesting American scientist at a ball who is researching into finding out how the soul works, and everything seems to be going okay, but the night of the Full Moon is around the corner, the time when the werewolfs lock themselves in their cages while there inner wolf comes out and takes control and the vampires party because their rivals, the werewolfs, are nowhere to be seen and you must celebrate such a happy day!

Miss Tarabotti decides to stay with Lord Akeldama during the Full Moon. She feels that she will be safe under his protection, since Lord Maccon and his wolves are out of service that night. Lord Maccon does assign a few BUR vampire agents to protect her, though men still get in to kidnap Lord Akeldama and Miss Tarabotti. They fight but to no avail as they smoked them with something to knock them out. Miss Tarabotti holds her breath for as long as she can but loses it when as she fights the unnaturally, as it seems, strong XVI, she touches him and nothing happens. She is shocked into losing her breath with the realization that he isn't a supernatural and he smiles wickedly at her misfortune.

When she awakens, she finds herself tied up in the dark with Lord Akeldama in a cell. Lord Akeldama informs her that XVI is an automaton or some sort of golem, a manufactured being made of steel that is given commands it absolutely must follow by its master. He also tells her that the only way to deactivate it is to smudge the XVI letters off of the automaton's forehead. He asks her to promise him that if they survive she will take him out to see the sunrise. Usually a vampire will be unable to see the sunrise once he is fully turned because the sunlight hurts them, but with the touch of Miss Tarabotti, Lord Akeldama will practically be human again and able view it once again. It is a deep measure of trust and Miss Tarabotti is touched.

Lord Akeldama is eventually taken away and they seem to have no clue who she is. In fact, most of the world doesn't, except for the supernaturals. This gives Miss Tarabotti some relief, but too soon they figure it out when they bring a visitor to show off their captures and their achievements, the American scientist. He immediately recognizes Miss Tarabotti and demands she be released. However, the other man recognizes the name and tells him who Miss Tarabotti really is, no human, per se.

They bring Miss Tarabotti out to have a talk with her. They tell her that they are doing experiments on and studying the supernaturals to learn how to kill them and destroy all supernaturals. They believe that the supernaturals have too much power and that by figuring out what makes Miss Tarabotti Miss Tarabotti, they will be able to replicate her power. They ask for her willing cooperation to do experiments on her, but, of course Miss Tarabotti is unwilling. She snatches a piece of glass while they aren't looking. They throw her into a cell with a werewolf, the strongest they say they have captured, to test out Miss Tarabotti's power.

To Miss Tarabotti's great surprise, she comes face to face with Lord Maccon in wolf form. She rolls out of the way as he charges her. She knows the next hit from Lord Maccon will most likely kill her before she can touch him, but as wolf-Lord Maccon rounds on her, he becomes confused for a second, he backpedals, and Miss Tarabotti uses this chance to touch him. Lord Maccon changes into human form under her fingers. She gives the glass to Lord Maccon and soon the scientists reopen the door. They ask her once more for her willing cooperation and she refuses. XVI hauls her over his back and away. The scientists are shocked to learn that as she's no longer touching Lord Maccon, Lord Maccon begins to transform back into a wolf, but not before he throws the piece of glass into the back of XVI. XVI continues to take her away, unperturbed by the piece of glass in his back, while the scientists fight with Lord Maccon. Miss Tarabotti pulls the piece of glass out and cuts herself with it to leave a trail for wolf-Lord Maccon to follow. She begins to hear screaming, screaming that very much sounds like Lord Akeldama. They take her to the room where Lord Akeldama is, they strap her down as Lord Akeldama is as well, and she watches as they slowly transfer his soul to someone else strapped down, turning the human into a vampire, and killing Lord Akeldama.

Wolf-Lord Maccon bursts through the door a meer moment before they are about to do the same to Miss Tarabotti. The scientists struggle to get the situation under control. The American scientist, the newcomer, is huddled in a corner, afraid. The newly-formed vampire somehow gets out of his straps, hungry as can be. Miss Tarabotti yells at the American scientist to unstrap her and he complies. The vampire jumps at the American scientist seeing easy prey. Wolf-Lord Maccon is fighting with XVI with no success. As soon as Miss Tarabotti can, she gets inbetween them and smudges "I" off of XVI's head. XV stops moving. Then she quickly touches wolf-Lord Maccon before he attacks anyone else. Somehow, the American scientists still lives, barely fighting off the vampire. Lord Maccon kills him, while still holding onto Miss Tarabotti. They unstrap Lord Akeldama and find that he's still alive. All of a sudden, XV's hands shoot out to wrap around Lord Maccon's neck, attempting to fullfill the last command given to it from it's master. Miss Tarabotti is about to remove her hand from Lord Maccon and allow him to change into a wolf when Lord Akeldama rubs out the rest of the letters on XV's head, completely turning him off. The skin slides off the automaton, leaving only metal. This action also seems to have used up the last of Lord Akeldama's energy. He falls and Lord Maccon catches him to slide him to the ground. They hear noise in the background and in come Lord Akeldama's drones. The drones save Lord Akeldama.

All the prisoners are released. The American scientist goes free. He was just barely joining the group so he never had done much. All of the crazy scientists are pretty much killed. Case solved.

Characters:

Miss Alexia Tarabotti - basically a "damsel-in-distress" for most of the book, though it doesn't feel so bad because of her general attitude and resourcefulness

Lord Conall Maccon - main hero that saves the day, the force behind everything

Lord Akeldama - not ever really in the fights, only contributes with information in the book

The Main Evil Scientist (can't remember his name) - he's like the bad guy who thinks he's doing good for the people even they don't know it yet, who you can kind of like but know you'll never be able to change his mind

Professor Lyall - beta to Lord Maccon and general sidekick

Lord Akeldama's drones - these are the guys who get all the information, are at all the important events, and reporting back to Lord Akeldama, all gay, as well

American Scientist - sort of stood a chance as a real suitor for Miss Tarabotti for a while there, mostly just an innocent bystander who happened to get wrapped up in the things

Climax:

Once Miss Tarabotti is carried away and strapped down about to be done experiments to is when we reach the climax. Then Lord Maccon saves the day. It continues for the whole fight there.

At the core, this story is more of a romance than a mystery. A tad steampunk. It has a kind of sherlockian feel to it. The supernatural are very immersed into society and people accept them. They have people coming to them to become vampires or werewolves. What was a little unique about this book was that the heroine wasn't some kick-ass girl who was perfect. Lord Maccon was the real hero throughout the book, but even so, Gail Carriger still makes you love Miss Tarabotti and feel like she's not a weakling.

I'm always referring to Miss Tarabotti as "Miss Tarabotti" because that's how they do in the book.
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Quotes April Liked

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


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