Fans of Steampunk, rejoice. And better count those who adore Steampunk with a great romance that has a delightful, witty and very original heroine. Gail Carriger’s Soulless will be on the lips of many before the end of the year. This is one of the most refreshing books I have read for 2009. Orbit has a very good thing with Gail Carriger. This freshman novel is near perfect in its writing and storytelling. When a book such as Soulless brings forth such laughs and an abundance of happiness while you read, it is a true winner in my eyes. I couldn’t stop smiling for hours after I finished reading.
Soulless is about Alexia Tarbotti, a twenty-six year old Victorian spinster who lives in London with her stepfather, mother and two sisters who embody incredible beauty. They are diamonds, while Alexia is considered to be a lump of coal. Her mother never allowed Alexia to have her coming out and placed her on the shelf at fifteen because of Alexia looks. Her deceased biological father was Italian and gave Alexia her long nose, dark looks and too many curves that are considered acceptable. She also has this bad habit of being a nibbler and eating when it suites her. Alexia has a dark secret because of her father. She is known as a preternatural, one who doesn’t have a soul. Alexia has a heart and can feel emotions but because she has no morals, she uses reason and logic instead. As a preternatural, anytime Alexia touches a supernatural creature like a vampire or werewolf, they lose their abilities. Her kind used to hunt these creatures throughout time. And if Alexia is found out, it could go very badly for her.
Alexia’s secret is about to come out because one night while she is at a ball, sitting alone in a library with her nose out of joint because there was no real food for her to eat, she is attacked by a vampire. The vampire had to audacity to try and suck her blood without even an introduction! Alexia defends herself with her parasol, which is one of her most favorite things in the world. Because she kills the vampire, she is in dire straits. Alexia is pretends to faint and is found by her nemesis, Lord Maccon who is the fourth Earl of Woolsey and the Chief Minister in Charge of Supernatural Liaison for the Greater London Area. He works for the Bureau of Unnatural Registry (BUR), a division of Queen Victoria’s Civil Service and also happens to be Scottish and the alpha to the Woolsey werewolf pack. Alexia and Maccon don’t get along because of an incident with a hedgehog that he blames Alexia for.
For some reason the vampire was starved and that was why he attacked Alexia. Because vampires live in hives and have queens, there should be no reason for a vampire to be so hungry and attacking the good people of London. Along with Maccon’s beta, Professor Lyall, they begin an investigation and find out that both vampires and werewolves are disappearing. It looks like something dastardly is at play that could uproot the whole supernatural community.
Armed with her parasol and good sense, Alexia will do some investigating of her own. She is very good friends with Lord Akeldama, a very witty and old vampire whose personality is as outrageous as his wardrobe. He gives her sound advice on where to go and who to be aware of. She also has her other good friend and owner of horrendous bonnets, Miss Ivy Hisselpenny to bounce ideas off of. Unfortunately, Alexia is in deeper trouble than she would have ever expected especially when the BUR offices are broken into and her file is stolen and Countess Nadasdy, the vampire queen of the Westminster Hive warns Alexia that there are many who would like to eliminate her. Alexia would like nothing better than to forget any of this is real, but how can she when she is attacked too many times to count? And then there is Lord Maccon who pops out of nowhere to protect her as well as kiss her senseless and dare to give her love bites around her neck for anyone to see.
Soulless is a rousing good time. The sights and sounds of Victorian England are shown so well here where you will be lost in the world of vampires, werewolves and mad scientists who have an obsession with octopuses. Not only is there a great deal of action but a wonderful romance between Alexia and Maccon that is too adorable for words. Gail makes sure to build up Alexia and Maccon’s attraction for one another slowly to the point these two are ready to combust because they can’t keep their hands off one another. Because Alexia is a proper virginal miss, she is still very innocent in the ways of courting and love. She knows the mechanics of attraction and the outcome due to some naughty books she has read that her deceased father owned. And watching Maccon come to grips with his uncontrollable lust and eventual devotion and love for Alexia is very sweet.
The mystery surrounding the supernatural disappearances is written so very well and you will be cheering for Alexia because she is the one to figure things out. Her reactions are priceless and her voice and internal musing are the highlights when reading.
There are not many books I can recommend that will make you want to drop everything you are doing and run out to your nearest bookstore to buy. Soulless is one of them. This is one book that you must own. I am truly in awe of Gail Carriger’s writing talent and I am utterly amazed it took her so long to be published. She is a true superstar of the publishing world and because of her I have a new respect for the Steampunk genre that I so callously felt was a fad that would die out. With Gail Carriger writing her Parasol Protectorate novels, that will not be the case.
I can say with utmost certainty that Soulless deserves an A+ and one of the best books I have read for 2009.