Heather's Reviews > Heartless

Heartless by Gail Carriger
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Jul 17, 2011

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bookshelves: fiction, library-books, urban-fantasy
Read from July 15 to 17, 2011

Lady Alexia Maccon is pregnant, and since she's a preternatural, a.k.a. "soulless," and her husband's a werewolf, no one's quite sure how the child is going to turn out. Rumor has it that the child is likely to be a creature called a "soul-stealer" or "skin-stalker," someone both mortal and immortal, and the vampires of London are not well-pleased with this possibility. (Vampires and werewolves, both of which are supernatural and immortal, are temporarily turned mortal again by the touch of a preternatural; soul-stealers, legend says, are even worse news for the supernatural set.) The vampires want Alexia and her child dead, and keeping her protected is proving to be a strain on Lord Maccon's werewolf pack. The solution? Clearly, her gay vampire best friend, Lord Akeldama, should adopt the child. Trusting that he'll keep it from growing up to be a menace, the vampires will back down, and the attempts on Alexia's life will stop. Right?

Alexia's not initially convinced, but Lord Akeldama, frivolous as he seems, does know how to get his way; eventually Akeldama, Lord Maccon, and Maccon's beta, Professor Lyall, talk Alexia into agreeing to their plan. So that's settled, at least, but Alexia can't exactly rest easy: when a ghost informs her of a conspiracy to kill the queen, she sets about trying to unravel the plot, which seems like it might be related to an earlier assassination attempt by a Scottish werewolf pack—Lord Maccon's old pack, in fact. Alexia can't very well go to Scotland herself in her state, so she sends a friend to investigate, and meanwhile, in London, tries to follow any leads she can, while also attempting to help a new member of her husband's pack settle in. In the process, she learns more than she expected to about the past—both about that earlier attempt and about her father, who was also a preternatural and who abandoned her mother before Alexia was born. Throughout, there is plenty of humor and plenty of tea.

This series, for me, is basically the bookish equivalent of a candy bar: enjoyable even if not exactly substantial. Its strengths are in a fast-paced plot and often-clever dialogue, and Carriger does those things well enough to carry the book, mostly, though I was occasionally annoyed by some errors I felt should have been caught by a copy editor or proofreader. (At one point Alexia talks about a "tick" when she definitely means a "tic," and elsewhere there's a reference to "Charring Cross Station," augh!) Still, this was a fun read, and I probably will read the final book in the series when it comes out next year.
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