Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: Soulless (Parasol Protectorate 1) by Gail Carriger

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)Soulless by Gail Carriger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alexia Tarabotti has no soul. Really. She's a preternatural, born without a soul, which allows her to negate supernatural powers with a touch. But that's not the worst of her problems, mainly because almost no one knows. No, her real troubles stem from the fact that she is 25, plain, and had an Italian father. She is, in her society, a spinster. Alexia is resigned to her station. And then, she (quite accidentally) kills a vampire at a party. Very bad form. The incident is investigated by the loud, devilishly good-looking Lord Maccon, working for the Queen's Bureau of Unnatural Registry. As they probe into the sudden appearance of a rogue vampire, they discover that known vampires have been disappearing, and unknown vampires are appearing. As they investigate, they discover a plot that could have dire consequences for the supernatural segment of society.

I truly enjoyed this book. Set in an alternate Victorian London, it is part steampunk, part romance, and part comedy. The characters are lovely- Alexia is smart, not afraid to speak her mind, and quite quick-witted. Other main characters are as enjoyable, especially Alexia's gay vampire friend, who speaks in italics, of course. The writing is clean and nicely paced, the dialogue is witty, and the Victorian elements are true to form. It reads quickly. The premise is interesting and intriguing.

Problems? Well, yes, a few. First, we are reminded, much more often than is necessary, of Alexia's appearance (she has her father's Italian complexion, large nose, and intellect), her less-than-marrigeable state (she is 25, and well, look at her- there's the appearance thing again), and the rest of her physical appearance (she is apparently a bit curvier than acceptable). A few reminders, yes, but at times it felt like being hit over the head with it, time after time.

And, while some of the circumstances (I won't go into more detail in order to avoid spoilers) that Alexia finds herself in, particularly with Lord Maccon, are stretching things a bit. They do provide some of the most amusing scenes in the book, but still, in those particular situations, I found myself a bit hard-pressed to believe the reactions.

Still, those are minor issues, and I didn't find them really detracting from my enjoyment of the book. It is fun, amusing, and a nice example of the steampunk genre.

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