Michelle's Reviews > Soulless

Soulless by Gail Carriger
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Oct 20, 09

bookshelves: 2009, fantasy, vamps-wolves, historical
Read in October, 2009

Possessing a practical and curious nature, Alexia Tarabotti has come to accept her faults as the natural cause of her spinsterhood: she's not noticeably pretty (unlike her silly two half-sisters), her deceased father happens to have been Italian (practically unforgivable), and she doesn't have a soul (though of course that isn't widely known). This last point however begins to sway in her favor when she is unexpectedly attacked by a vampire, in a library of all places, without even first asking her pardon - or permission for that matter. As a preternatural however, Alexia's lack of soul allows her to negate any supernatural - vampire or werewolf alike - with only a touch. Handy that. Allowing her to escape becoming a vampire's dinner but resulting in the loss of her tea and having to answer to the gruff Lord Maccon - the local alpha werewolf under the direction of the Queen - who is less than pleased with Alexia's intervention. These two stubborn and...(cough, cough)...outspoken personalities have clashed before and this latest meeting doesn't bode too well for their future either. What follows is a give and take comedy/mystery wherein Lord Maccon gives Alexia advice, usually unsolicited, and she studiously ignores him. Often resulting in less than pleasant results for Alexia.

I was pleased to find Soulless as intriguing and different as its unique cover. Ask the hubby, I have gushed who knows how many times over that dress, that sway back - I adore it all; so that's saying a lot. The language was also a winner - Alexia practically leaps off the page from the very beginning.

It's hard to exactly put my finger on why I enjoyed this book so much - like Gail Carriger says herself it's a little Victorian era, paranormal, mystery, romance, and a little steampunk thrown in for good measure. Even though the steampunk aspects were a bit of an afterthought, I believe it was the concept of Alexia herself that drew me the most. The fact that she is one of the only soulless individuals in England leaves her adventures wide open as she draws not only the attention of the local supernatural community, but the Queen herself. Being a self-professed bluestocking who would much rather spend her time with books and a cup of tea than with her two flighty sisters, Alexia can be exasperating to those who aren't themselves firmly grounded in intellectualism and practicality. Understandable. But still she's witty, knows what she wants, and above all, is very, very fun. The ending was a bit over the top since the focus had shifted a bit from Alexia's independent misadventures to her relationship with Lord Maccon - a bit too sweet for my tastes, but I've got high hopes for the duo's return in Changeless, the Parasol Protectorate book 2 due out March 2010.
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