Friday, July 31, 2015

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Title: Soulless (Parasol Protectorate #1) 
Author: Gail Carriger
Date Published: 

Rating: 4 out of 5

Goodreads Blurb: 

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 is a review for Soulless, specifically, but references (not spoilers) to the rest of the series will be made.  

This steam-punk/paranormal thriller is really good! The MC, Alexia Tarabotti is a spinster who is deeply entrenched in the supernatural world of an alternate nineteenth century England. She is a preternatural, who posses the power to neutralize other supernaturals as a consequence of having no soul. In other words, she can take away the powers of werewolves and vampires and render them humans. The logistics of such a being are explained throughout this series and involve a great deal of discussion regarding aether.  

When I say werewolves and vampires, don't think of the paranormal riff-raff clogging the YA world today. Instead think of regency England, the fashionably dressed nobility, and those aforementioned supernaturals enmeshed into the very threads of society. A few memorable supernaturals from this book include the vampire Lord Akeldama, and the werewolves Lord Maccon and Professor Lyall. They are all such 3D characters, dynamic and full of life. I absolutely loved Lord Akeldama's affected persona and idiosyncratic fashion choices; similar to Magnus Bane from the the Infernal Devices, Lord Akeldama was the epoch of fashion and stylishness. I also liked Lord Maccon's domineering yet sweet personality, and Professor Lyall's practicality. 

Alexia Tarabotti was an interesting, appropriately witty character yet utterly contradictory. She was depicted very well, but sometimes, I doubted her priorities. Ivy Hisselpenny, however, I knew without a doubt was hopelessly entrenched in absolute vapidity. Although I found Ivy quite amusing, I didn't understand how Ivy could possibly be Alexia's friend. I mean, her HATS say it all. 

I enjoyed the allusions to the Great Enlightenment, Dark Ages, and I believe the Harlem witch trials. I also adored how Ms. Carriger depicted this alternate world in which science rules society. Although it was not the only thing ruling society (etiquette is quite important), science plays a big part in this book and some of the technology mentioned are pretty cool, like the spiky disruptor. The depiction of the English society itself was quite interesting! It paints a thorough picutre of all the major groups in society, as well as the Queen of England herself. And the BUR (supernatural agency) was an aspect that really interested me, but it could have also been described with a bit more detail. 

This book would have been five stars but I did not like the romance aspect of this book, for it was incongruous ad discordant in an otherwise fun and comical read.

I recommend this to fans of steam-punk, which is a a slightly more fantastical sub-genre in science fiction. I also recommend this to those who adore historical fiction, especially Regency England. Ridiculously comical at times and downright interesting at others, this book is a good choice to those who are looking for a light read.