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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?

357 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published September 4, 2009

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About the author

Gail Carriger

55 books15k followers
Gail Carriger writes comedies of manners mixed with paranormal romance (and the sexy San Andreas Shifter series as G L Carriger). Her books include the Parasol Protectorate and the Finishing School series. She is published in many languages and has over a dozen NYT bestsellers. She was once an archaeologist and is fond of shoes, octopuses, and tea. Join the Chirrup for sneak peaks of upcoming giggles: http://gailcarriger.com/chirrup

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5 stars
35,900 (32%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 10,998 reviews
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,635 reviews34k followers
June 13, 2016
Here is a most edifying (and highly scientific) quiz you may use to ascertain whether this novel is one that you will enjoy.

* Is your bookcase overflowing with strong, decisive heroines?
* Do you chuckle over the animated Gorey titles preceding a PBS “Mystery!” presentation?
* Are you fond of the Victorian era?
* Does witty prose make you positively giddy with excitement?
* Have you ever lingered over a bit of lace or wistfully touched a velvet coat?
* Are you delighted when someone brews a pot of tea?
* Does the notion of shape-shifters tickle your fancy?
* Are you fascinated by the seductive appeal of vampires?
* Have you a penchant for strong, handsome men?
* Do you look discreetly and longingly at other people’s plates?

If the answer to most of these questions is “yes” then you musn’t hesitate—it’s quite possible that Soulless will thoroughly please your palate and leap right onto your “favorites” shelf. If the answer is “no,” then clearly there is no romance in your soul this is a book to be most assuredly avoided.

You will have to forgive my enthusiasm in this review. I was positively in ecstasies over the witty language as I was reading this deliciously dotty book, and even as I write this it’s hard to keep from smiling. The story follows Miss Alexia Tarabotti, a preternatural being who has the ability to remove supernatural powers as long as she is touching the other person. Alexia is a clever bluestocking with revoltingly independent tendencies and an unfortunate weakness for treacle tarts. As a spinster, she’s resigned herself to hovering on the edges of glittering social engagements--that is, until she gets caught up in the mystery surrounding a strange vampire attack that flaunts all the rules of polite society. Not to mention that such attacks are a serious breach of good manners.

Meticulously detailed and overflowing with good humor, Soulless is a like a cozy mystery run mad, set in an inventive alternate universe populated with a dizzying array of colorful characters. I’m quite sure that Gail Carriger has been busily spying my bookshelves to see all of the different kinds of books I enjoy and wrote this just for me, as I jotted notes continuously as I read because I found so much to exclaim over. If you’re curious about the writer’s style, I would strongly recommend downloading the preview chapter to try or having a look at my status updates, since I quoted a fair number of my favorite lines.

I haven’t read that many steampunk novels yet, but it’s hard to imagine that there could be another one that blends the Victorian era and imaginative paranormal fiction as seamlessly as this one does. I loved the marvelous descriptions of glassicals, carriages outfitted with tea kettles and viewing lenses, and the various steam-powered machines and engines.

What I appreciate most about this book, however, is that the author did a splendid job of melding mystery, steampunk, and romance together in such a wonderful way while observing the customs and attitudes of the Victorian era. I have such a pet peeve about novels that are set in this time that largely ignore traditional views towards women or the rules of society; while I don’t expect every historical novel I pick up (especially light-hearted entertainers like this one) to be completely accurate, it is a joy to find a book that is so thoroughly researched and comfortable with the manners and mores of the period. Although Alexia is obviously a supernatural being with unusual powers, she also has the same concerns as other women of her time: the feminine role in society, the need for security through marriage, the uncomfortable marginalization of thinking women, etc. I felt enormous sympathy for Alexia when she says simply, “I would so like something useful to do.” The author spends just enough time working these details into the story before she transcends those issues and gives our heroine the means to overcome her problems in a completely enjoyable way.

Once the big confrontation occurs towards the end, however, I did feel that the book lost a bit of its momentum since it would have been better if things were wrapped up more quickly, and the paranormal aspects of Alexia's abilities are perhaps a little on the slight side. There was also a bit more romance in the novel than I expected, but you know, I’m as willing to be seduced by a handsome werewolf as the next lady, so I was happy to go along with that part of the story. It’s not a hardship when Miss Tarabotti and Lord Maccon are such well-matched individuals. And, um, some of their scenes together made this reader fan herself more than once.

I had such a wonderful time reading this novel. This style of writing and humor and story will not be for everyone, but I found it to be hysterically funny, swooningly romantic, and thoroughly entertaining. I absolutely adore it.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ And I want to pepper it with kisses. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Profile Image for Kelly.
889 reviews4,126 followers
June 14, 2010
So, I’ve got something else to blame on Glee. In addition to all the terrible eighties music that I’ve been listening to, and image of that terrible Mozart spaceman outfit gone wrong that they put Kurt in for the Gaga episode, I feel certain that the same people who decide on the structure and performance of that show are the same people who decided that it was okay to release Soulless in the form that I read it.

At it’s heart, Glee is simply a weak, changeable framework for presenting touchstones of cultural nostalgia and niche enthusiasms, with interspersed attempts at taking advantage of whatever cultural phenomena have been raking in money over the past few years. The plot, characters and setting all radically and inconsistently change as necessary to allow the producers to put on a show about songs and stories that people feel are an integral enough part of their past or current identity to get them to watch the show each week. The problem with all this is that if you present a musical revue as an ongoing story, then people (at least people like me), will attach certain expectations to the story they’re reading. This is especially true of any genre storytelling- that is, storytelling that will trigger something in the audience’s brain that tells them how to process the joke that’s just been told, how to view the characters, and therefore how to judge the story’s conclusion or lack thereof. Glee is written by three different people who do not seem to communicate well to each other, and following any sort of story gets difficult: one minute we’re watching a mean-but-you-gotta-laugh-cause-he’s-right commentary on culture and the media, the next minute it’s a Very Special Episode that asks us all to sing kumbaya and feel bad for those less fortunate than ourselves. It’s gotten especially jarring over the back half of the first season (I maintain that there were several episodes in the first half that were genuinely good!). These genres do not sit well next to each other, each exposing the weaknesses and downright awful or mean aspects of the other- ie, Are these characters supposed to be simply cardboard cutouts that offer conscious criticism and zippy one liners? Or are they supposed to be real people for me to engage with and treat as I would a real person in that situation? You’ve gotta pick one and tell me what’s up, ‘cause otherwise it’s an uncomfortable and unrewarding viewing experience, and that feeling is gonna outweigh even my undying love for Journey.

I had a very similar experience with Soulless. There’s a lot of genres elbowing for room in here-Regency comedy of manners, Victorian gothic, steampunk, urban fantasy, PG Wodehouse comedy, a bit of SATC, and a prissy bodice ripper (if that seems contradictory, well, just look at the rest of the list!). The author herself talks about this in the little mini interview in the back of my edition of the book, how “suddenly, I was juggling more subgenres than Ivy has ugly hats!” (Oh, don’t worry, we’ll get there in a minute.) Now, I like a lot of these genres separately- and I am aware that there are lots of other people out there who read some sort of combination of these genres, and I saw the hand of the Glee producers at work. Separately, I like all these things. Together?: It’s a Queen medley on top of a Spice Girls cameo with some Green Day background noise, a Broadway power ballad’s notes soaring over it all and whatever the hell that Sugar Ray song was that I now can’t get out of my head- goddamn this idea for a review!- providing the remix beats. Why, Carriger, why must you try to ruin innocent genres who committed no other crime but being so awesome??

Our heroine, Alexia Tarabotti, is a pretty straight up Cinderella/Jane Eyre type, who just happens to have special magical powers (she’s soulless- but there are no downsides I can see to this except that there may be no heaven for you if it exists, but she seems cool with this). She is an Indomitable Fantasy Heroine Who Can Take Care of Herself, and a Wounded Duckling who thinks nobody likes her, even though she is prettier, smarter, wittier and has better boobs than anyone in the room. Now, that trope is pretty tiresome- even Tina Fey doing it ironically on 30 Rock as a commentary on Hollywood standards has started to grate on me. But fine, it’s a genre stereotype and whatever. The problem comes when Carriger applies different standards to the things that come out of her mouth- for example, her treatment of Ivy Hisselpenny, which pissed me off to no end. Now mind you, this is a woman Alexia calls her “dearest friend,” who she visits regularly and spends a good deal of her time with. It slowly emerges that Alexia finds her shallow, stupid and desperate for a man, as well as having terrible taste with all those “ugly hats”.

Now aside from all the “how would she know if she’s soulless?” comments people have already made, I thought that, more importantly, Alexia was not a nice person. I’m sorry I can’t state it in a more nuanced way than that, but it really made me angry. Ivy seemed to be yet another foil to make sure we knew just how Special a Special Snowflake Alexia was, and for Alexia to use for emotional comfort... while being completely comfortable with viciously making fun of her a few pages later. The genre mixing problem shows here because I think Alexia’s opinion of Ivy, the possessor of ugly hats, is exactly how PG Wodehouse might characterize a person in one of his short stories, as so-“And as for Miss Hisselpenny- she wore an ugly hat- we need say no more!” Fine, but as the book goes on, Alexia’s story gets more and more melodramatic and Tearjerking, with involved Gothic plots and character development past the opening farce, and I’m supposed to feel bad for how badly she’s been treated, ie, see her as a real person. And you know what? I don’t like any person if the nicest thing you appear to be able to say about your best friend is that she’s a shallow bimbo who wears bad hats. I’m left to assume the only reason she hangs out with her is because she’s one of the only characters with less social standing than Alexia, so she can feel secure that she’s better than her. Actually, Alexia doesn’t have a good opinion about any other woman she encounters in the book. If all other women are torn down as unworthy in a book that’s, in the end, about women ending up with men, I'm pretty sure I know what the reason is. And it makes it pretty clear to me who really puts the most importance on getting a man. Speaking of which, another example: we hear over and over that Alexia aspires to Lofty Intellectual Ideals and scorns gossipy, shallow women. But then she indulges in gossip later with Lord Akeldama’s (her Sassy Gay Friend) sassy gay chorus (which includes at least one incredibly offensive gay stereotype-the one named Biffy who magically knows how to do her hair in the most current French fashion!), and we’re supposed to see the gossip as naughty, titillating fun that all sophisticates take part in. So now she’s in Sex and the City and Pamela at once? Again, PICK ONE. Because honestly, presented that way, it seems like just another excuse for the author to give her more male attention. In short, she takes funny and good things about various genres and makes them mean and self-serving.

I could go on with the many other similar travesties this book commits, never mind the misunderstanding of Jane Austen, the completely unthinking racism and classism committed while imitating authors from earlier eras, not to even MENTION the insult to the Greek philosophers (which Elizabeth has covered nicely) or science of all kinds. But I think I have made my displeasure clear enough to anyone dedicated enough to reach the end of this review.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go perform an exorcism on Sugar Ray.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,950 followers
March 30, 2019
Reread to hopefully continue on!! 2019


I thought the beginning of the book was hilarious. Alexia is something else and a danger with that parasol! She has no problems with whacking people in the head or men in their nether regions! Lol

Alexia is soulless <--- meaning just what I said, she doesn't have a soul and just her touch can take away others powers, such as the vampires and werewolves.

In the beginning of the book she is attacked in the library by a rove vampire. He was starved, had no sense of anything really and ended up dead when he messed with the wrong woman, Alexia

Alexia has a love interest named Lord Maccon (yum) and he's the alpha werewolf and also he is a leader in BUR(Bureau of Unnatural Registry) Alexia would like to be involved with the bureau but Lord Maccon told she wasn't covert. Of course this rankled her feathers but it is what it is.

They all end up trying to find out what is going on with the vampires and some werewolf stuff. Someone is doing evil things. A bunch of twats as usual.

There are several characters in the story that I enjoyed as well.

I have to say in the carriage ride to their home, Lord Maccon and Alexia had me cracking up! Dear Lord, the things she said!!

All in all it was a great book!!
January 13, 2010
Ms. Carriger, congratulations! This was a great ride. I can honestly say that I laughed myself silly reading this book. This is one of those books that will probably embarrass you if you read it in public. You have been warned! This is the first novel that I've read that managed to cleverly and gently satirize the conventions of historical romance, and it was done in a manner that was utterly irresistible. I have not read any Wodehouse, but I imagine I will like him very much, if he is indeed an influence on this author's writing.

Not only did I enjoy the humor, I thought the characters were beyond interesting. Alexia is one of those heroines that will stand out in the reader's mind. She's intelligent, gutsy, fierce, yet ladylike and admirable. Although she has moments where she's down on herself (she seemed unable to accept that Lord Maccon was interested in her, but it totally made sense to me), she manages to be remarkably comfortable in her own skin. I believe that this is a big part of her appeal to Lord Maccon. Alexia is an alpha woman that I really like. She doesn't come on too strong, and she knows her limits. Throwing her weight around is not a tactic that she resorts to. But if you try something, she will make sure you know it's not happening. I liked that she was a woman of her times, in that she was strong, intelligent, and passionate; yet, she possessed the morals and understandings of what was appropriate in her society. Alexia's ability felt very novel to me. I especially liked how she used it when she interacted with the supernatural people in her life, especially Lord Maccon. There's a really good part where Alexia has to get up close and person with a naked Lord Maccon to keep him from changing back into a wolf. And they sure do take advantage of that moment. Naked Lord Maccon, up close and personal, who could blame a girl?

Ah, let's talk about Lord Maccon. Three words: To Die For! I loved him. Not too surprising, since I happen to adore, big, sexy, Scottish werewolves. But it's the whole package with him. I like that he's rough around the edges. Smooth operators bore me. The unpolished, fierce heroes, they get me everytime. Ooh, he had me reading this book furiously to get to the next scenes with he and Alexia. I loved all his scenes, in human and in werewolf form.

Alexia and Lord Maccon had awesome chemistry. This is not really a romance novel, so the reader must keep this in mind. Soulless is more of a fantasy with a very strong romance. If you take that into consideration and enjoy the ride, the romantic moments will be a pleasant surprise on top of the humor and the fantastic elements. Having said that, I loved all the smootchy/getting personal scenes. This book has that element of Victorian romance that I just love. The whole "we are passionately carried away, but this is really improper and I hope we don't get caught" theme really works for me. I loved how they couldn't seem to keep their hands off each other. Very appealing! Alexia and Lord Maccon are going on my favorite couples list. No doubt about it.

Now to the fantasy/steampunk elements. I thought Ms. Carriger did a great job. Initially, I had to get used to the writing style. Like I said earlier, I haven't read too many satirical-styled stories. I had to realize that I couldn't take things too seriously. Once I got into that mode, I was good. This book is an interesting hybrid in that it's definitely a humorous story, but there are some edgy, dark elements, as well. The automaton was pretty darn creepy. I immediately started thinking about golems when it was first introduced. I liked how she took the golem folklore and gave it a steampunk twist. I could completely understand why Alexia found it so repulsive. It was alive, but so opposite from what a living being might be. I liked the adventure aspects. This book made me think of the old school adventure storytellers like Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, although this book doesn't stray far from the drawing rooms and polite environs of London and its suburbs. I could easily imagine Ms. Carriger writing a ripping, neo-pulp adventure yarn. If she does, sign me up! I hope she has a Roxton-esque hero if she does. Hint, Hint. I definitely think this would make a great movie (in the right hands).

Steampunk is a new, but beloved genre for me. When it comes to technical and mechanical devices, I have no imagination. So I have to give it to Ms. Carriger for writing these aspects very well. I had a very good visual picture of the steam-driven, clockwork technology in my head while I was reading. Yet, she didn't overdo it so that I was more focused on trying to picture these devices and not focused on the story.

Vampires and werewolves are the main supernatural beasties in this story. They are very politically and socially-organized, to the degree that they have advisors to the queen herself. I admit, I really had to focus on this aspect, needing to reread a few paragraphs to really gain an understanding of the social structure of the two supernatural groups. But it was time well spent. I liked reading about the social dynamics of the vampire society, divided up into hives, each with a Queen vampire (she's the only one who can make new vamps), and having human servants called drones. Lord Akeldama, Alexia's flamboyant friend who happens to be a very powerful vampire, was a hoot. His fashion sense was outrageous, and he kept me laughing. On the werewolf side, I was enamored with Professor Lyall, the competent, extremely intelligent beta to the Alpha werewolf, Lord Maccon, Earl of Woolsey. I hope to see a lot more of Prof. Lyall. The werewolf pack dynamics were especially interesting to me, werewolf lover that I am. I absolutely love the werewolf salute given to Alexia at the end of this book. I was practically clapping. I think you could see that the vamps and weres were very integrated into society, and a huge part of the governmental workings of the author's concept of Great Britain of the 19th Century. It really gives a different perspective on the British Empire.

Man, this was a great read. If you're coming from a romance or a contemporary urban fantasy background, this book will take you out of your comfort zones, but it's so worth it. Hang in there until you get used to the flow of the language (it's very 19th century), and relax and enjoy the witty humor (it's very funny). You will have a great time. Don't forget to bring your tricked-out parasol and glassicals, just in case.
Profile Image for Danielle.
832 reviews451 followers
December 2, 2020
Never, in a million years would I have thought this would be a five star read for me. 😮 Entertaining, yes, but five stars, no way... but it was! It really was worth those stars. Thanks to my dear friend Brooklyn for the book recommendation. ❤️ I loved these characters, the setting, the detective feel, the banter, the hot chemistry. 😍 There has been such crap books about vampires and werewolves, but trust me, this was fantastic. ⚠️ I will caution: it does get a bit rated R in a few bits, so this may not be for my wholesome friends.
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 46 books128k followers
November 13, 2009
I wish I had written this book! Only because it combines two of my latest fetishes: Corsets and Paranormal creatures. After the first chapter this book is pretty good, I really enjoyed it (although it's not reinventing the wheel in any way). Nice romance, appealing characters, melding of the two genres was enough to keep my very entertained and up late! I will read another for sure!
July 8, 2022
I am deeply dissatisfied with this book. It was an utter shambles, and I intend to explain why.

I had this book on my to-read list for so long, so I finally set about purchasing it. The cover looks intriguing, and admittedly, I really love the parasol that Alexia is holding. I thought I was in for a delicious treat of a Steampunk style read, with a few vampires thrown in. What I received was a confused mess, in which any plot that ever previously existed, was smothered by this garbage.

The combination of genres was migraine inducing. We had Victoriana, Steampunk, paranormal and some very cringy romance, but, to top that off, we had some rather ghastly humour, which wasn't at any point actually funny. I was wanting more of a Steampunk feel, but I felt this was attempting to be more on the paranormal romance side. For some reason, some individuals assume that by throwing in a couple of airships and goggles, that there is an instant Steampunk novel. This simply is NOT the case!

It was pretty damn obvious very early on who was going to get it on with who. The fun was kind of sucked out of it by that point. The amusing part is, Alexia has it in her head that she was simply too ugly for any male to give her any kind of attention. But we are told that it wasn't Alexia's parasol that Lord Maccon was mesmerised with. Oh no, it was her "Generous curves" and "generous breasts" Of COURSE it was, silly me! That kind of screamed out Cinderella to me.

It was way too predictable.

As much as I can understand the entire "biting" concept of sexual intimacy, Lord Maccon seemed to take this to a new level. He was constantly, almost in every chapter, sinking his teeth into Alexia's neck. The thing is, Alexia LIKED this. I was almost to the point of guessing exactly what room Maccon was going to bite Alexia's neck in next.

There were some odd paragraphs written in here, that I just failed to get my head around. Here is one of the most prominent ones;

"He rolled so that she was beneath him. Alexia's ivory taffeta gown was held together by a row of mother of pearl buttons up the length of it's back. The Earl eventually discovered this fact and began undoing with a rapidity bespoke consummate skill in the art of undoing ladies clothing."

This Earl must be a professional at undoing ladies back buttons because it must have been tremendously difficult when the lady is physically pinned to the ground! Lets call it an art shall we Earl?

Soulless seems to have gathered all of my pet peeves, and then mixed them altogether into a 291 page book. To anyone that knows me well enough, I can confidently say that this particular book is sitting on the same shelf as "Uprooted" Aka-In the trash.
However, at least there is one aspect this book did correctly, it certainly stayed true to it's title; it really was entirely "Soulless"
Profile Image for Eh?Eh!.
373 reviews4 followers
July 5, 2010
Rbrs #4

Remember in grade school, when the teacher would ask for a volunteer to give the first speech or present the first diorama or whatever? Public Speaking - that which is feared more than death. Comparisons were always inevitable. I learned to shoot that hand up like a game of "not-it," so that everyone would be compared to me but my stuff would gently fade in the mob memory. Also, to get it out of the way so then I could relax while everyone else sweated it and got ever more anxious. Soooo, I was slow with this book and there have been a bunch of excellent reviews written. Comparisons are inevitable. They're really good and you should read them. Especially THIS ONE (forgive me if I missed anyone). These reviews tear the book apart brilliantly.

Most of the discussions about the definition of "Romance" have been beyond my ability to participate, pulling in outside sources and critical thinking magnificence, but clear enough that I can nod and say "yeah!" all thuggishly with fist in the air. I'll try not to be a complete parrot here, as I try to place this book in my limited understanding of the Romance universe. Well, I can't even parrot very well because much of it whooshes over my head. I would consider this book to be Romance, but not the giggly-silly spooning and forking of PtP or barfbag secks of SO'M. The only real relations occurred at the very end after the couple was married. Well, in the carriage on the way to the nuptual bed. Because they couldn't wait. Anyway. The humping (so many ways to not say the word!) wasn't the point, not titillation (tit-lit?).

I think the point is to describe an adventure and relationship that the Romance reader can slip on, or project herself. I read a couple of the other reviews by serial Romance readers – which was quite the task, whew – and they went on (and on and on) about how the dude made her, the readers, feel. Sorry for the mixing of singular and plural, but the readers are mostly ladies and the ladies seemed to see themselves as Alexia. The man is 'devastatingly handsome'/dark/strong but the lady is described as 'not being a beauty' - she's tall, older (26, not old, but considered beyond the typical marriagable age), darker skinned, larger nosed, likes her food, bigger breasted, a boom-chicka-bow-wow bod. Most of her physical qualities are generally described so that a large chunk of the couch-potato population could do that thing where they see themselves in the story. The clothes are excruciatingly detailed, sometimes the furniture. It's like sitcom t.v. for the book world, where you don't have to think and it's all laid out for you. Which is all okay! Don't attack me, puppets and trolls. I thought this book was not-terrible and performs admirably in its chosen niche...which I think is mostly Romance of the milder variety despite its attempts to shmoosh together all sorts of categories. Essentially, it's a girl meeting and marrying a guy.

Each chapter is a contained scene, with all the action and dialogue occurring in one room per scene. The story wasn't really remarkable. There are vampires, werewolves, descriptions of how they fit into this world. The girl and guy don't like each other at first, but that's just because they're extremely attracted to each other and the dislike is an indicator of their future passion. Heh. The whole thing about the girl being soulless? Not well thought out or executed, more a convenient superpower for our superheroine. The clunky witticisms made me cringe, not because they were really bad, but they were slightly bad and there were so many of them...and I'm guilty of clunky "wit" so I can't put the author down for this. I cringe, as I do when I see/hear/feel one of my attempts at "wit" land with a thud.

There were some instances of clumsy writing that popped out like a stray "splay," since Ms. Carriger took great pains to write so properly and use Big Words:

She winced at the flavor, looked with narrowed eyes at her cup, and then reached for the creamer. I glare at crockery, too.

She widened her large brown eyes...and lowered her eyelashes beseechingly. Doesn't this sound like her eyelashes moved independently?

And my favorite: He...rolled so that she was beneath him.... Alexia's ivory taffeta gown was held together by a row of tiny mother-of-pearl buttons up the length of its back. ...the earl eventually discovered this fact and began undoing them with a rapidity the bespoke consummate skill in the art of undoing ladies' clothing. Well, hell! That sure is consummate skill, undoing back-buttons when her back is pressed to the ground! Okay, that last one is probably just me, a scene where the author decided to move the pace along by not describing every single movement...but dude-lady, you've been describing details on the near molecular level. Couldn't you describe Alexia lifting her back up so the earl could undo the row of tiny mother-of-pearl buttons up the length of the ivory taffeta gown? I was jostled from my...I mean, Alexia's, disrobing when you didn't tell me exactly every single movement.

I, uh, liked the flamboyant gay vampire and his harem of cooing men. There was also a scene of real beauty (to me) near the end, with the sunset.

One last non-story thingy – the pose on the cover image is only possible for the rare ~2% of the population who are supermodels; one of the RBRS ladies didn't find it impossible but I suspect she's got some supermodel in her. You need a loooooooong torso & neck. Hee, following the cover credits on the back, the photographed woman titles herself the Gothic Supermodel and you can purchase the costume.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,404 reviews11.7k followers
September 16, 2010
My apologies to all my friends who love this book, but again, I fail to understand the appeal. Like with a few other popular novels I've tried reading recently, this is simply a glorified fanfiction in print. If you ever ask me what I mean calling books "fanfiction," my answer would be, as with the definition of "porn," I can't articulate it, but I know when I see/read it. It's just too gratuitous and lacks substance, depth, flavor, richness, even though it, at times, entertains.
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.3k followers
November 9, 2010
If you've been on GoodReads for any decent amount of time then you probably know Tatiana. If you don't then she is a very popular, entertaining reviewer with almost flawless taste in books and you should go read and like all her reviews abunch.

Usually, we tend to agree on a lot of books. When comparing books, we generally have an 88% similarity rating which has led me, in the past, to comment that we must be soulmates. So you can understand my obvious distress when I read this book and quite liked it when Tatiana didn't.

It's hard to say what I actually liked about Soulless because it's hard to categorize what it actually is. Some people said it was a Romance, which I struggled with because there really wasn't that much romancing and Alexia, whilst prone to Lord Maccon's physique, wasn't much of a romantic either.

Then there was the Steampunk which made brief appearances but didn't play a large role in the story.

Alexia, a shrewish, intellectual "over-the-hill" spinster of good fortune finds herself in a sticky situtation when vampires start to go missing and she gets involved with Lord Maccon, a scottish werewolf who is happy to overlook her tan skin, roman nose and out-spoken temperment.

It had many of the mainstays of a harlequin romance: the horrible family, the "mystery", the rich and handsome man.

What I found I enjoyed was Alexia's voice and personality. I enjoyed her volatile relationship with Lord Maccon and I felt the story was fairly well written with good pacing and an interesting set of characters.

What I didn't like about the story, and my main gripe, is with Alexia's apparent Soullessness. Alexia states that when she discovered that she was Soulless, her answer was to go look up a bunch of greek philosophy. Naturally. I do that all the time. Should I put peppercorn on my stake? Hmmmmm, what do the greek philosophers say about that? Aristotle is quoted later in regards to the soul and it is made apparent that Alexia is familiar with Aristotle.

The thing is, if she really was that familiar with Aristotle then she'd know that he believed the soul to be our very essence. Our nature. The thing that drives us. The soul of the eye is sight - and all that shit.

It appears that the only downside to not having a soul is that she's not very creative and she struggles with fashion. Shit. Really?

[image error]
You have no soul!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Okay, we already knew that, but still...

Still, weirdly, despite the fact that she apparently struggles with fashion, she still feels she can berate her bff's horrible taste in hats. It's quite a conundrum!

See, now I don't believe in a lot of spiritual crap stuff. I don't believe in ghosts, crystals, chi, spiritual energy, astrology, numerology, runes, tarots, I don't think I've ever even SEEN a Ouija board. You might convince me a demon is around causing issues but I'd still rather check out whether infrasound or electromagnetic issues are what's really playing up as opposed to believe that something supernatural is going on.

I do still believe in souls though and I would tend to believe that if someone didn't have a soul then they would find it very difficult to love. All in all, I really felt like this aspect of the book was it's greatest potential that was never really even touched by the author. It seemed to be more of a trick used to lure us in. Oh! She doesn't have a soul? Exciting, I wonder what that's like! Carriger's answer= not all that different really...

My only other problem was with the embarrasingly horrible lemon scenes. Carriger, from what I've seen, can write a lot of things, but steamy this was not.

Lastly, the visit at the end from a certain historical figure was sloppily done and I felt it detracted from what was otherwise an enjoyable story for me.

So, just to recap, if you woke up this morning and dressed yourself in this:

[image error]
Then you are most definitely going to hell for all the right reasons.
Profile Image for Helen 2.0.
408 reviews910 followers
June 1, 2017
If Charlaine Harris and Jane Austen's ghost got together and had a love child, this book would be it.

Soulless plays in Victorian era England, in an alternate world where shifters and vampires have revealed their existence to the common folk (much like a historical True Blood). Our main character is Alexia Tarabotti, a blue-stocking spinster with embarrassingly Italian blood and a preternatural - a human born without her soul. She has the ability to cancel supernatural powers by touch, which helps her deal with Lord Maccon (werewolf alpha and book BF material) and a horde of vampires and evil scientists pursuing her.

The Parasol Protectorate was different from other PNR or UF series I've encountered because:
-it's my first historical PNR read. Fun fun fun.

-Alexia isn't your typical eye-boggling hot heroine. Her big nose, dark complexion, and over-generous curves are a constant source of vindictive amusement to her family and societal acquaintances. Alexia also isn't your typical roundhouse-kick-to-the-ass heroine; she leaves most of the fighting work to others and uses her wits and spinster-hood to her advantage.

-the characters in Soulless are astonishingly blasé about murder and death. An entire organization is massacred over the course of the book, yet the perpetrators are met with nothing harsher than mild disapproval and an awkward air from society. Everyone acts like this is an everyday sort of experience.

-There is a flamboyant vampire lord who calls people "my darling" and "crumpet" and "honeybee". That was a new one for me.

-Accidental sex! Anyone know those MTV contraception ads that tell you "Sex is no accident!" For example:

Well in this book, it is. Blame the bumpy carriage.

I have no motivation to continue with the series at the moment, but if there's a buddy read somewhere I would keep going fo sho.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,868 reviews5,034 followers
January 4, 2011
Well, the first thing I can tell you is that reading this from a critical, review-writing frame of mind is not the way to enjoy it.

I encountered this book when it first came out, lying on the new release table of the Union Square Barnes & Noble (that's San Francisco, not NY, B&N friends). I no longer live in the City and was visiting a friend who, as it turned out, wasn't home yet. Or answering her phone. Night was falling and I had no way of knowing how much time I would have to kill. This book looked light and amusing. I read it in a corner between stacks, by a window where I had good cell reception. Since I was breaking off every ten minutes to call my friend, I did not notice the choppiness that many people complain of, and in my increasing distraction the self-consciousness of the prose was less evident. The book has a blend of humor and action that was pleasantly distracting as I worried about my friend having had a motorcycle accident or been mugged (don't worry, she was fine). I recommend this for reading in waiting rooms, or while expecting an unpleasant phone call.

On rereading, the flaws are more glaring: the awkward sections of exposition, the self-consciousness of authorial voice, the over-preciousness of much of the humor. However, I still found it a reasonably entertaining story with some good ideas. I appreciate how Carriger plays with genres and avoids certain tropes that alienate readers who normally avoid one or more of the genres in question. For instance, there is enough romance to please romance readers without the "my Throbbing Vulva made me do it" crap that so often makes me want to throw romance novels against the wall. And, thankfully, no rape or pseudo-rape amongst the homage to romance conventions. Likewise, there are some neat steampunkish touches without overwhelming amounts of mechanistic imagery.

Some of Carriger's flaws tread very close to her positive attributes -- her tongue-in-cheek humor, for instance, is often too self-conscious and often crosses into smugness, giving the unfortunate impression that the author is too impressed by her own cleverness. Alexia herself seems in many ways to mirror the flaws in the writing: likable but over-confident in a way that was at odds with her purported insecurities.

A number of reviewers had problems with the idea of the main character being "Soulless". I actually found this appealing, as I did not think that the author meant us to believe that Alexia actually lacked a soul as defined as the spiritual or moral aspect of human nature; rather, I thought she was setting up a commentary on authority (religious, scientific, patriarchal) and how it constructs identity for those under it. My interpretation was that the soullessness was a misunderstanding by limited contemporary knowledge of how Alexia's preternatural nature functioned, and that the differences she describes in herself are essentially psychosomatic. She has been told from age 6 that she is abnormal so she believes this and constructs her understanding of herself around this flawed premise. Any actual "abnormalities" on her part have grown out of her sense of social isolation and exceptionalism. In short, she is different because she believes that she is different. The only concrete difference we see is her effect on supernatural creatures. In an odd way this also explains the dichotomy between low self-esteem and confidence in Alexia's personality: on the one had, she is sure that there is something deeply wrong with her; on the other hand, feelings of difference that usually cause individuals to feel that they are "weird" she explains away as due to her lack of soul, and thus not really her fault.

I also thought this might be a bit of critique of High Society, in which an Italian surname is more detrimental to one's status than the lack of a soul. Carriger specifies that Neither her family nor the members of the social circles she frequented ever noticed she was missing anything.

More aggravating to me was lack of period dialogue. Of course, Carriger is hardly the only offender in this regard, but it would have been nice if she had made a bit more effort. Even the prose has an odd feel, as if she had been trying to make it sound a certain way that she herself didn't quite understand. Like the choppiness and excessively long passages of thought during conversations, this is something that could and should be taken care of by a good editor. I thought the book as a whole had a lot of potential and hope that now that the initial excitement of being published has worn off the author will settle down to a more even style. As it stands, I can't always tell whether Carriger is being clever, or really dumb.


Edit: it just occurred to me, after reading the Glee comparison in Kelly's review that this was the perfect song to link

Profile Image for Lora.
186 reviews1,001 followers
September 8, 2011
*sigh* Boy, am I in the minority here! Every friend of mine has given this at least three stars, and here I am not even being able to finish it. Still, I don't hate this book, so before giving my reasons for not liking it, I will be fair and go over what I did like.

Our heroine, Miss Alexia Tarabotti, hasn't had an easy life. Besides being put on the shelf at the age of fifteen by her mother, she's had to deal with unjust criticism. While the people of today spend countless dollars on cancer-causing tanning beds and spray on tan in a cans that make them look like a walking Orange Julius, in Alexia's day and age it is simply not the fashion to have a little darker skin. Nope, alabaster is where it's at! So as you can imagine, the vampires fit in quite nicely. But not our poor Miss Tarabotti! She has been shamed and ridiculed for even having lightly tanned skin practically since she popped out of her mother's womb. And what about that dreadfully large nose Miss Tarabotti sports? Well, we can't have that, now can we? No, no, no! We'll have to take the hedge trimmers to that thing! Pfft.
As I'm sure a lot of people have, I've been on the receiving end of this kind of backwards thinking that Alexia's received from her family and peers, and it doesn't feel good. So I can sympathize with Alexia. She holds her head — and her nose — high, and lets it roll off her beautifully clad shoulders. I admire that. And . . . I'm afraid that's where my interest ended.

I have read of the neck nibbling (or gnawing, as the case may be) that ensues later on, and, for obvious reasons, I sincerely tried to make it to that part. But I guess even some good smut couldn't make me continue. For me, the writing made this nearly impossible to get into. Somehow it manages to read like fanfiction while still confusing me. I had to reread several passages in order to get even a semblance of what was happening in some scenes.

Besides these reasons, I couldn't get into the world Carriger created and, other than Miss Tarabotti, none of the characters (no, not even Lord Maccon) appealed to me. I realize this could've changed had I given it more time, but as of now I don't have the interest to do so. I believe that 50 - 100 pages is enough to tell if a book is for you or not, and I gave it 80.

To all fans of this series, especially those that are my friends, I'm sorry. I tried. :(
Profile Image for Maureen.
574 reviews4,185 followers
June 30, 2015
4.5/5 stars
I really enjoyed this book! Alexia is such an interesting character, and the world is very similar to that of TID - WHICH I LOVED.
The whole paranormal aspect was very well done and interesting to read about and I loved all the major characters! The minor characters could have been a bit better, but that's what other books are for!
The story was SO GOOD and very well thought out - a lot of things surprised me, though I did catch some of the foreshadowing.
Can't wait to read the rest of this series - I'm sure it's only going to get better from here.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11.2k followers
March 23, 2011
4.0 to 4.5 stars. VERY PLEASANTLY SURPRISED is the best way I can think of to describe my reaction to this book. While there are a few urban fantasy series that I really enjoy, it is not my favorite genre, especially those series that could also be classified as “paranormal romances.” This book, while more “Victorian steampunk” than urban fantasy does certainly have a very strong “romance” element to the plot…AND I REALLY, REALLY ENJOYED IT!!

The story takes place in an alternative Victorian London where vampires and werewolves exist and have made themselves known to the normal human population. In fact, through there very long lives and special abilities they have become very powerful in society (thinking of them as the aristocracy would give you a good idea of how they are portrayed). The main character, Alexia Tarabotti, is a spinster (at the ripe old age of 26) whose half-Italian heritage and strong-willed personality make here less than perfect marriage material according to London society. In addition to her Mediterranean appearance and her sharp wit, Alexia has another very unique quality…she was born without a soul. This type of person (known in the book as being a “preternatural”) has the ability to completely eliminate the abilities of all “supernatural” creatures that come in contact with her. As another review mentioned, she is like “kryptonite” to the supernatural. I found this to be a very clever and unique plot device (which is hard to come up with these days).

With the above as background, the plot itself is really best described as a comedy of manners combined together with a mystery involving a complex conspiracy involving forces both human and supernatural. Part of the reason the book appealed to me is that the main character reminded me of someone out of a “Jane Austen” novel (whose books I really enjoy). Alexia is smart, beautiful (despite the prejudices of London society), independent and a bit unconventional in so far as she does not always behave the way “society” believes she should. I found the story to be engaging, the characters to be interesting and well developed and the world-building and supernatural elements to be excellent.

Overall, I really enjoyed this and plan to continue reading the series. Highly Recommended!!

Profile Image for Anzû.
238 reviews1,105 followers
June 11, 2023
Warning. Review contains mild spoilers.

I am very disappointed, I had very high expectations for this book. The blurb sounded awesome, most of my friends’ reviews are five and four stars. The cover is good, the author seems obsessed with English tea, you get a hint of steampunk in there.

I was expecting Soulless to be a cute humorous book full of Steampunk action and vampires. A light read. Pure fun. What I got is a mismatched Christmas tree made out of boring Victorian fiction, Paranormal Romance, inconsistent and generic storyline and bad humor.
“Ask zem. Ask zem, please, to look for ze missing ones. My master, he iz a rove. He vanishez last week. Poof.” She snapped her fingers. “Like zat. Zey brought me to ze hive because I am pretty and do good work, but ze comtesse, she only just toleratez me. Without hiz protection, I do not know how long I will last.”

I feel like the mix of genres is too much and is hindering worldbuilding more than helping it. I was also expecting Soulless to be more Steampunk than this, it added to my disappointment. The main focus of the story is on the Paranormal side, and the Steampunk is barely there. A bunch of airships, some devices and a few mad scientists. That is all. Pretty generic.

I am aware that this is slightly better than the typical Steampunk Romance style, where the Steampunk elements consist of a bunch of cosmetic goggles, used especially during sex, and some airships mindlessly thrown around. Nevertheless, I still can’t call Soulless Steampunk. If you want a perfect combination of Steampunk and vampires, you should check out Clay and Susan Griffith’s The Greyfriar. If you want a good Steampunk/Paranormal Romance then go for Meljean Broo’s The Iron Duke or Delilah S. Dawson’s Wicked as They Come.

The main character in this book is Miss Alexia Tarabotti, a half Italian spinster who thinks she’s too fugly for anyone to even spare her a second glance. Oh, and she suffers from the Cinderella syndrome.

The male lead is Lord Maccon, the werewolf Alpha who works for the B.U.R., the Bureau of Unnatural Registry, and of course he falls head over heels in love with our dear Alexia.
Alexia's generous curves[…]

There was just something about Alexia Tarabotti that made her immensely appealing.

Let me guess. Her parasol?
“Did I mention how lovely you are looking today, Miss Tarabotti?” He pulled the carriage to a full stop. Of course. Alexia could hardly point out the many flaws in his theories after such a compliment.

Could hardly point out. Hm. Great figure. Generous curves.
[…] her generous breasts […]

Of course no man would want to marry such a lady as her.

I am sorry to tell you Alexia, you seem to be suffering from the Mary Sue syndrome. My sincere condolences.

Lord Maccon, on the other hand, is a complete cardboard cutout. He was simply there to save the MC when she was in trouble, and form the obligatory romance.

I also thought the way he shows his affections for Alexia is simply weird.
Lord Maccon sank his human—due to their shockingly informal embrace and the fact that she was a preternatural—teeth into the place where her neck and shoulder joined.[…] Someone cleared his throat delicately. Lord Maccon bit down harder.

The dude was munching on her neck like it's a chew toy. Very hot.

I think Soulless would have been a better book if the romance wasn’t there. Maybe then the author could have focused more on the story and worldbuilding. Less filler, less time wasting, more action.
Profile Image for Meredith Holley.
Author 2 books2,272 followers
June 8, 2010
Monsters are inevitably campy. That is a rule. You might not think it’s true, but you’re wrong. I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you, but the rule also applies to space. Monster stories and space stories range from those that deny the campiness and try to be really soulful social commentary to those that are hilarious in acknowledging the campiness and still manage to have something brilliant to say. There are levels in between those two extremes, but I’m trying to give you the framework of how I evaluate monster stories. Thankfully, in this book, Carriger embraces the silly. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Soulless has anything brilliant to say, but it does not commit the sin of claiming to have soul where there really is none.

I’ll give you a couple of examples of what I’m talking about, so maybe it will make sense. (Note: if you hate people comparing movies to books, none of my reviews are for you, but especially not this one. I’m sorry, but comparisons must be made.) With vampires, you’ve got your Daybreakers and you’ve got your Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Movie. The former manages to be completely serious and still not make the obvious social commentary about finite resources that was sitting right there, waiting to be made. The latter is silly the whole time, but still has a nice, solid girl-power message. With space, you’ve got the obvious example of the Star Wars series. The new trilogy is outrageously campy, but never openly acknowledges it, so I’m left incredibly uncomfortable with everything it’s telling me. The old trilogy has one-liners and robot comic relief and whatnot to give you that silly sense that We’re In Space, Friends! Examples abound, and my theory is that camp is inevitable in these genres if only because they involve elaborate costumes. So, embrace the camp, writers! I can see it there, even if you don’t want me to. Trying to hide it makes me embarrassed for you.

I’m feeling like the same rule applies to the romance genre. Bodies are funny, so when there are these earnest descriptions of passionate sex in these books I’m laughing at them, not with them. And they don’t seem more passionate for their excess earnestness.

This book is a relief because Carriger combines monsters and romance and takes none of it seriously. It’s a pretty slap-sticky story, actually, and that made it difficult to get into to begin with, but after I got more used to that, I liked it. Basically, the story is about this girl:
Gail Carriger, grinning, in a shiny pink shirt and black skirt

She is a "preternatural" Cinderella, but then she meets werewolf Ewan McGreggor

Ewan McGreggor, looking hot, also grinning

and they reenact a scene from the show Moonlighting, but realize WAAAAY more quickly than Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd (thank god) that they were confusing love for hate and start getting’ it on. (Gerard Butler:

[image error]

is the more obvious casting choice for our hero, but Ewan McGregor is perfect, and I’m still mad at Butler for The Ugly Truth, so he’s not getting any work from me.) To add to an already solid sexual tension, in the background you’ve got a solicitous but exasperated Jeeves, a Rupert Giles werewolf, Elizabeth Bennett’s parents, a Scottish accent, mad scientists, a steampunk tea kettle, and, best of all, an umbrella weapon!!! It’s true, there’s an odd running joke about sitting on a porcupine, which is kind of funny, but maybe going a little too far away from Buster Keaton and toward the Lil’ Rascals for my taste. You’ve got to take the lame whoopee cushions with the awesome banana peels, though, and no complaining. I think that’s what people mean when they say life’s not fair.

But, here’s what I want to talk to you about today: appearances. My favorite book when I was little was The Blue Castle. Valancy Stirling is told all her life that she’s ugly, but really she’s spectacular, and she gets to shove it in everyone’s faces. In Soulless, Alexia has pretty much the same character arc, so she probably gets an automatic pass from me just for that. That said, in my limited reading of the romance genre, the thing that I HATE THE MOST (other than the rape) is the idea that there is one, specific kind of beauty that you can describe using hair and breasts in a really vague, annoying way. That seems so false to me, because in my experience, no matter what I think of my friends’ appearances when I first meet them, they become beautiful to me after I know them. Same rule with enemies, but the opposite outcome.

So, we all get kind of riled up when people describe women really shallowly or assume that women will be one way or another based on their looks, and with good reason. I even think part of the point of Soulless is “Who knows why people are attracted to each other since there is no one kind of beauty?” which I like. But have we all just seen so many movies where beautiful women fall all over themselves about ugly men that we’re permanently mad and don’t care how meanly and shallowly we talk about men? I feel like these books are almost cruel in their stereotyping of the physical appearances of men.

In Soulless, we’ve got the hero, who is a growl and a half, no doubt, with his Scottish and his hungry eyes. But then we’ve got poor Mr. MacDougall, who’s a coward because he’s got a full figure. It’s pretty easy to see how our own genders are marginalized, and I guess that’s why we like it – it’s easy. But why do we talk about each other with such disregard and even cruelty? I’ll never forget the day, not so very long ago, when I realized men have feelings, too. It’s pretty terrible, but the thought had just never occurred to me before. I’m sure it’s not a usual thing to have that be a major revelation, but sometimes I look around at the little, petty meannesses between people, and I think maybe we all should be reminded . . . I don’t know . . . that people are not different? Just, not to be a jerk? Maybe it wasn’t mean in the past to stereotype men based on their body types because women were judged on looks and men were judged on money, but even assuming that used to be true, I don’t really think it is a valid excuse anymore. And certainly not in a book that seems like it’s trying to overcome stereotypes of the female protagonist. It bothers me when people are hurt by an attitude and then choose to perpetuate that same attitude towards others instead of reflecting on their own similar or contributing behavior.

Rant almost over, but I also have to say that this double standard of how women are allowed to act about men reminds me of Carrie-Bradshaw-type girls who will be like, “I forced my boyfriend go to a horrible party that he hated, and now I will cry into my pillow because he doesn’t give me DIAmonds.” I’m not saying people shouldn’t demand respect from each other, but demanding respect and being a jerk are not the same thing. Rant over.

So, that’s my complaint, but I really took more space ranting here about it than it took in the book, and I still liked the story. Carriger clearly understands my theory about the carnival nature of romance and describes the bodies with a silliness that is refreshing. I was laughing with her, not at her. Plus, it was only one book long! I can choose whether to read the next installment or not! The book was actually the length of just the one story. I can’t tell you how pleased that makes me. High fives all around for that! Overall, it’s openly campy and upfront about its lack of soul, and that’s really all I’d ask for from a monster romance.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,323 reviews2,146 followers
April 17, 2018
I have just had nearly as much fun reading the reviews of this book as I did reading the book itself! There are people who loathed it and are not afraid to say so, to people who absolutely rave about it and can't give it enough stars! Well I am not going to rave but I did like it very much indeed:)

Of course Soulless was written for people like me. I love historical romance, anything to do with Victorian London and vampires (werewolves not so much but I am making an exception for Lord Maccon). All these things were there aplenty plus a huge amount of humour, a very entertaining female main character and a great story. I laughed a lot even through the romance scenes which were an entertainment in themselves!

Definitely a series I am going to follow up on. I cannot wait to see what Alexia gets up to next.
Profile Image for Deborah Harkness.
Author 30 books29k followers
December 3, 2010
I haven't had this much fun reading a book in ages. Witty dialogue, believable characters, and a real sense of the Victorian--and steampunk!--make Carriger's book a treat. Off to the sequel!
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,771 reviews1,771 followers
February 23, 2016
Loved it! Loved it, loved it, loved it.

I always get really nervous when I write reviews for books that I have such positive reactions to, especially ones like this one that have such strong personalities. This book knows who it is and what it's trying to do and does its thing with aplomb. I happened to love it immediately after reading the first sentence, but I can understand how if the humor in the writing or the language she uses, or if you don't like romances, or stories with their tongues firmly in cheek, or stories set in Victorian England, or dirigibles, or spinsters . . . or whatever else this story has that I shoved into my brain as fast as I could, if none of that works for you, or pieces don't . . . I could see how you might not like this book.

Of course, if that's the case, I also reserve the right to think you are wrong, so so very wrong. Please go marinate yourself in your wrongness. This book was a goddamn delight from start to finish.

I don't even know what else to say. This book was such a perfect mash-up of things I love, put together in such a very appealing way. I haven't read very many steampunk books, and I usually avoid books about werewolves and vampires unless they are heavily recommended, but the slightly skewed Victorian setting, proceeding form an alternate history where after the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment, the world's vampires and werewolves came out of the shadows to live among polite society, immediately caught my imagination. The narrator had this sassy and perfect attitude, and our main character Alexia herself, not to mention the werewolf Lord Maccon, were instantly lovable. I'm not usually into werewolves, but DAMN SON.

It's just, it feels like this book is mine. I can see myself becoming quite obsessed with it. It's honestly not even that great! I mean, it's great. Lies. What I mean is that nothing it does hasn't been done before, but the way it's all put together made it seem like I'd never read anything like it before. I was giggling through half of it and swooning through more, and then being super creeped out, and then back to swooning. Literally the only complaint I have is that the narrator was a bit unidentifiable. It was a closed third person, yet also seemed to be omniscient, and switched from character to character depending on the paragraph. But I was willing to forgive it that slight misstep because SO MUCH FUN.

If you like any of the following things, read this book immediately:

•A story about vampires and werewolves that doesn't make you want to rip your hair out.
•Comedies of manners.
•A satisfying romance between two stubborn, opinionated people.
•Good sexy times.
•Dirigibles, clockwork items, bustles, parasols, carriages and other such items.
•Really creepy bad guys.
•Seriously though the kissing.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
January 29, 2010
After Alexia Tarabotti commits a faux pas and accidentally kills a vampire at a party and falls under the eye of Lord Maccon, the Queen's investigator of the supernatural, she inadvertently gets involved in a plot involving werewolves, vampires, and deranged scientists. Will she be able to survive whatever is going on without suffering further embarrassment?

Normally, I'm so overflowing with sheer manliness that a book with this much pink on the cover would fall beneath my radar. It sounded interesting though. High society, werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, what's not to like?

Gail Carriger takes a fairly predictable plot and uses it to mine a rich vein of comedic gold. If Jane Austen and P.G. Wodehouse collaborated on a novel about werewolves and vampires, this would be it. The relationship of Lord Maccon and Alexia is straight out of every romantic comedy ever made and still comes off pretty funny. Alexia herself is by far one of the funnier characters I've come across recently, both in dialogue and in deed. Her friend, the flamboyantly gay vampire Lord Akeldama is worth the price of admission alone.

To sum up, while it has the distinctive taste of chick lit, Soulless was a pretty enjoyable read for those who like their humor to have a British flavor. And guys, it probably won't make a significant dip in your testosterone level to give it a read.
Profile Image for The Flooze.
762 reviews249 followers
October 22, 2009
Recipe for success:
- Liberal amount of Austen & Wodehouse
- Generous helping of the supernatural
- Sprinkling of steampunk
- Heavy dose of humor
- Dollop of romance

- One sorely abused treacle tart
- One hedgehog, slightly squashed

What a success Soulless is. No First Book Syndrome here.

Gail Carriger shows that she is a woman with ideas in this alternate history paranormal tale. Not only does she have ideas, but Carriger knows how to execute them. Soulless is a refreshing and wildly amusing new take on the supernatural--and on the strong, capable heroine. The characters are memorable, the writing is tight, and the banter is delightfully witty.

Her main character, Alexia Tarabotti, is a sharp and intelligent spinster whose lively conversations and astute observations belie her status of "soulless." She's a wonderful and determined character. Miss Tarabotti is very passionate about her beliefs, and more than willing to whack would-be attackers about the head with her parasol.

Alexia lives in a Victorian England where vampires and werewolves are accepted by society. She's acquainted with several members of the supernatural set--most notably the outrageous vampire Lord Akeldama (he often speaks in italics, my petal), and the gruff and brawny Alpha werewolf, Lord Maccon (a delicious Highland brute).

Carriger's story takes Alexia through high-society functions, human and supernatural courting rituals, familial unrest, gruesome attacks, and several instances of appalling attire. The result is enthralling, brisk, and sure to keep you smiling throughout. I wish book 2 were here already!
Profile Image for Catherine.
523 reviews551 followers
August 9, 2011
*Originally read 7/4/10 - 7/5/10*

This book was, quite simply, delightful! I finished it with a big smile on my face and giggled almost continually while reading it. My husband finally banished me to the bedroom because I was irritating him while he watched a movie.

The world that Gail Carriger created was so much fun and so interesting. I loved seeing a familiar government amid the new and exciting facets of it. I loved the set up of the supernatural creatures and the singular abilities of the preternatural. Who would have thought that having no soul would be so useful around vampires and werewolves? But my favorite part of the book had to be the interaction between Alexia and Lord Maccon. Hilarious!

Alexia inherited more than her Italian ancestry from her father, she also inherited her soulless state. Alexia is firmly on the shelf and not really bothered by the fact. She goes her own way and ignores her mother whenever she gets too overbearing. Alexia is quite unlike any other woman of her acquaintance. She's witty, opinionated, and pragmatic, but can also be quite fierce. I love how prim she can be about some things, but quite forward in others. Also, her absolute horror about her friend's ugly hats was hilarious.

I really loved how Alexia's soulless state was emphasized. She can dress well, but she never can achieve that extra pop. Her choices always reflect a lack of soul. I thought that was a rather clever point to bring up. I also liked that the soul wasn't necessarily a religious thing. Multiple people had too much soul, although few had as little as Alexia.

Alexia's friendship with the foppish Lord Akeldama was great! He was such an interesting character. His mincing around and speaking with great drama always got a smile from me. I also loved his devoted, little harem. Three cheers to the author for creating characters that I love to pieces! One part that was so sweet was when Alexia went to wake him up to keep her promise. I had a total Awwww! moment.

Lord Maccon was so gruff and sweet. He was the perfect balance to Alexia. I loved when he was ranting about her ignoring him. He kept talking about how it was "her turn" because he made the last move. It was very cute watching him have to be reminded that Alexia is not a werewolf so she doesn't understand what game he's playing.

The sexual tension and eventual culmination of said tension was very well done. It was delicious when they finally kissed.

I can't wait to try the next book! This is definitely a series to pay attention to.

*Updated: I listened to this in audiobook for my reread and absolutely adored it. The narrator was fabulous and really made the story come alive.*
Profile Image for Madison Warner Fairbanks.
2,365 reviews338 followers
February 13, 2021
Soulless by Gail Carriger
1st book in the Parasol Protectorate series. Steampunk historical paranormal romance.
Vampires, werewolves and a soulless spinster. Protocol and social etiquette must be observed.

A fun mystery adventure that Alexia must negotiate though it may be dangerous. Just make sure there is tea available. Someone is hunting the paranormal population and Alexia is on the case.
Engaging, humorous, and quirky. A bit sexy. And it does get a bit bloody.
Loved the adventure and can’t wait for the next in this entertaining steampunk series.
Profile Image for Christine.
6,673 reviews489 followers
June 4, 2010
I should admit two things before I start this review. I didn't finish this book; however, it does not belong on my ick-attack shelf (the shelf for truly bad books). Second, I really wanted to like this book. I really did.

I have several problems with this book. Maybe, I'm the wrong person to read this because I have never read those regency romance novels. The idea behind the book is good. Carriger's gets full points for that (she gets full points for two other things, see the end of this review). The first problem I had is that Carriger keeps switching between two narrative voices; I'm not even sure she or her editor were aware of this. One voice is very formal, the other less so. Eventually this becomes distracting. It doesn't work and makes the reader wonder about the change.

The fantasy elements of the novel don't seem well thought. It is true that Carriger is trying to be fresh (maybe, considering the UF genre now, it is impossible) with her idea of a vampire hive and a soulless person. The elements don't work because they don't seem well thought out. To boldy use the lack of a soul as a plot point is an intersting idea, yet any reader could say that Alexia, in fact, has a soul. I also would have liked to see more of Alexia's thoughts on the matter (at least in the first 125 pages). It doesn't cut it just to have her read Greek philosphers and she's fine. The vampires, despite the use of the hive, are just like every other vampire and so are the werewolves.

Worse, Carriger uses, or seems to, every single UF cliche about heroines in the first 100 pages. Alexia doesn't think she is pretty, but she has a beautiful body. She's exotic because her father was a heathen Italian (why her mother would marry a heathen Italian is never explained). This is unique point one. She is soulless (something not even her mother knows about her, though Alexia was told at a young age). That is unique point two. She reads more than the average lady which makes her, somehow, knowledgable about sex even though she is virgin. That's unique point three. She is better than her airhead family. Unique point four. Her soulless state is unusal; she is the only soulless one in the area. Unique point five. She designs her own parsols. Unique point six.

Someone put her out of my misery.

At times it seems that Carriger is trying to be cute and funny. She almost is, and I believe the idea would've worked better in a shorter format. Sadly, much of the cute and funny comes across as annoying. As a novel it only makes me, once again, realize how good Jane Austen and Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh And Other Poems are in terms of style. Carriger is drawing on both these works and comes across as a poor last place finisher.

There are, however, two very good things that Carriger does here, that while not ensuring this book or a series a second chance, will make me look for her work outside of this. The first, and most important, is that Carriger gives Alexia a true friend, Ivy. Both women interact with each as equals even though each has a flaw that annoys the other. I liked that. The other is that Carriger presents a relationship of equal that is not a silly love triangle. Because of this, when Carriger writes something outside of this series, I'll check it out.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Shannon A.
675 reviews532 followers
July 11, 2015
Actual rating *4.25 stars*

I had such a fun ride with this book. The characters and relationships are what got me excited and eventually I just fell in love with it all. It started a bit slow for me and I would have liked a bit more world-building, but I loved the story overall and will definitely be continuing the series in the future!!
Profile Image for Lois Bujold.
Author 167 books37.8k followers
January 14, 2013
And also its four sequels in the series, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless and Timeless. (I sort of wanted this to have three more sequels, to be titled Hapless, Feckless and Gormless, but it was not to be.)

I had read the first of these last year, and thought, "OK, I know what this is now, that's enough." Besides my general ongoing reader's-block, neither Steampunk nor Paranormal Romance/Vampires&Werewolves are to my usual taste, and this has both. It also has romantic farce, however, which is, and which proved to carry the rest well enough to go on with. It still rather came off as six pounds of stuff in a five-pound bucket, but I think that was part of the point.

It did not quite work, as I'd dimly hoped upon returning to pick up the ensuing volumes a week or so ago, as methadone for running out of Rivers of London sequels, as Krentz/Quick/Castle can sometimes be for one's Crusie jones. But as I read on at least one secondary character, that urbane werewolf-about-London Professor Randolph Lyell, caught my interest enough to keep going if only to find out what his writer was going to do with him, which turned out pretty satisfying over all, even as I thought, "Y'know, I bet she's making all this up as she goes along...".

Good pacing. There was an occasional word-choice gaffe that a better copy-edit might have caught -- either a word that meant something other than the apparent intent, or a 20th/21st Century usage that occasionally troubled the 19th C. world-building illusion. (And no, I am not referring to Ivy's intended malapropisms.) It seemed to me that this improved as the books wended on, as these things tend to do with practice.

So, on the whole: yeah. Inventive and amusing.

I saw upon a visit to Amazon that the books have a manga adaptation, which looked promising; I think this story and world would make that transition very well. I have the first two available manga volumes on order, which I will review separately in due course.

Ta, L.
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,243 followers
November 23, 2016
You all know how much I hate Steampunk. It always feels forced. Someone decides to write a historical romance and then adds in a bunch of cogs, flying machines, goggles, and automatons to make a giant mess turn it into Steampunk. So, this one almost got drop-kicked into the DNF pile a couple of times.

This book is very tongue-in-cheek. We have a heroine who is more worried about social niceties, proper manners, and quality clothing than the fact that she is attacked by a vampire and has to deal with a werewolf in the aftermath. She's silly and doesn't know it.

Well, I never!

But, it's easy to find her way of thinking pretty funny.

He kissed as though he needed her to subsist. It was unbearably intimate. Worse than allowing one's ankles to be seen.

Social standing and proper etiquette are top priorities for Alexia, even when she is being tortured. She is horrified that her hair is hanging loose, and she calls her torturers ill-mannered. That will teach them!

Proper etiquette is crucial in all situations.

So, there was a subtle humor throughout the book that anyone who has read a lot of historical romance would appreciate. There is an interesting alternate-history viewpoint with magical creatures added in that is fun. But, these things didn't overcome the way the story dragged a bit. The pacing was slow. Really slow. And sometimes the ridiculousness overcame the fun. Still, overall, the book was entertaining.

Profile Image for Maria V. Snyder.
Author 76 books16.9k followers
October 6, 2010
LOVED IT! I listened to this one - the reader, Emily Gray was excellent. I laughed out loud. It's set in Victorian London where Vampires and Werewolves are a part of high society. My only complaint - I can't find the sequel on Audible.com and I don't think I'll be able to read this series now that I've listened to Emily...it wouldn't be the same!
Profile Image for carol..
1,572 reviews8,223 followers
July 29, 2011
Overall a fun read that I finished quickly. I enjoyed Carriger's new take on magical/ supernatural systems, namely, Alexia being "soulless," and therefore anathema to magical creatures. She was a strong, funny and determined character, and I enjoyed reading about her adventures. I wasn't expecting a romance, but would say that despite being fairly heavy on the romantic element, it was well done and kept a light, funny tone. I did get the Wodehouse overtones, where adherence to Victorian conventions and social standards creates awkward situations. I thought the pace was great, a nice balance of action and dialogue. Credit for using the obvious antagonist as an unwilling dupe, not someone of sinister intent, and extra credit for making the automaton seriously creepy.

A couple of times the story switched perspective to that of Lord Maccon and then his sidekick Professor Lyall, which seemed odd when most of the story was from Alexia's viewpoint. I'm not sure that it helped develop suspense.

Characters were somewhat stereotypical, but done well. Our heroine was a self-reliant yet well-mannered "spinster" who frequently colluded with her personal Jeeves to circumvent family restrictions. The half-sisters were a little too Cinderella-styled, but they didn't linger.

I'm no specialist in the Victorian era, but there were a couple language anomalies that bugged even me. A character starting a phrase with "Gee..." sounded particularly suspicious. However, if one takes it lightheartedly and without a great deal of inspection, it's very enjoyable. I'll definitely be adding the next to my "to read" list, but will grab it from the library.
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