Book Review: Soulless

Book Review: SoullessSoulless by Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate #1
Also in this series: Changeless
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Steampunk
Pages: 373
Published by Orbit on October 1, 2009
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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?
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, language, and/or violence.
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Soulless is filling the category “Setting I want to Visit” in my Full House Reading Challenge.

This book has been sitting on my shelf for months. I had no idea what I was missing. The first installment of The Parasol Protectorate Series is charming, exceedingly witty, romantic, and full of intrigue.

Characters:

Alexia Tarabotti is stubborn, witty, and charming. Somehow, everyone (except perhaps, Lord Maccon) thinks rather poorly of her, though she can take care of herself and she can also carry on quite entertaining conversations. Also, she has no soul, so there are some interesting moments where she debates whether she feels certain things simply because she is alive, or if one needs a soul to be fully alive.

Lord Maccon: gruff, and yet utterly charming werewolf who finds himself inexplicably in love with Miss Tarabotti. He is what you might expect from a gruff and entirely noble werewolf. Wholly likeable, madly in love with our heroine, who is convinced he is only pretending.

Other notable characters include Lord Maccon’s second in command, or beta in wolf speak, Professor Lyall, who is always there to help pick up the pieces when Lord Maccon’s evenings perhaps go awry; Miss Ivy Hisselpenny, who seems to be the owner of numerous offensive headwear; and Lord Akeldama, who is the most fabulous vampire in all of London.

Plot:

Vampires, werewolves, and preturnaturals all converge in a steampunk London, and it is glorious. And this isn’t steampunk in the way some books shove it in your face every chance they get. No, Soulless mentions steampunk elements occasionally, a pair of goggles here, a dirigible there, a stray automaton chasing our favorite heroine, a tricked out parasol waiting to be used.

When vampires and werewolves not associated with the packs or the hives start going missing, it’s up to Alexia and Lord Maccon to figure out what is going on. Also, Alexia seems to be being followed by a terrifying waxy faced man.  The intrigue continues to grow as our heroes get deeper into the mysteries of London Society; not to mention that protocol dictates that a man and a woman found in some of the situations they find themselves in requires an offer of marriage.

Romance:

Alexia has been told all her life that she is not desirable. Now she is past the usual marrying age, and she is told she is an undesirable spinster. Lord Maccon is not interested in societal standards and falls in love with her anyway. And it’s magical. I loved the moment when he discovered Alexia’s low self-esteem (she hides it rather well) and how it outraged him. Their relationship is very sweet; Alexia doesn’t understand the depth of Lord Maccon’s feelings for quite a while, and it’s adorable to watch him continuously try to convince her of his feelings.

Conclusion:

This was an absolutely enchanting book, and I can’t wait to dive into the rest of the series. There are plenty of paranormal, steampunk, and romantic elements here to charm readers of multiple genres. The tone is light (though some of the conflict is not), and the book flits along at a very quick pace; that paired with extremely likable characters makes for an excellent read.

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