Friday, January 15, 2010
Review: Soulless- by Gail Carriger
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 is being rudely attacked by a vampire to whom she has not been properly introduced! Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire, and 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? Who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?
(Summary from Gail Carriger's website.)
Soulless is the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series and the debut novel by Gail Carriger. It is set in Victorian England, but in an England that the supernatural are known about and live freely. In fact, two of Queen Victoria's most trusted advisers are a vampire and a werewolf. There is also an agency called BUR(Bureau of Unnatural Registry) that keeps tabs on and investigates all of the goings on of the supernatural and reports to the Queen's advisers.
Then, there is Alexia Tarabotti. She is not supernatural, but a preternatural. She has no soul and has the ability to temporarily make supernatural beings immortal while she is in physical contact with them. This is something that was passed down from her deceased father, though we learn very little more about it or him in this book.
All the trouble begins when Miss Tarabotti goes into the library at a ball to have some tea and eat and runs into a vampire who attacks her. It just goes downhill from there. First of all, she can not figure out why he doesn't know about what she is. Oh, and he lisps around his fangs! Oh, goodness me! Well, wouldn't you know it, she killed him with her parasol! Next, thing you know Lord Maccon from BUR is investigating and getting on her last nerves, the vampires want to meet with her, and her family is just kind of ridiculous.
I'll admit that it actually took me a little bit to get into this book. Even though it started out making me laugh with a parasol death scene, I still couldn't quite get into the dialogue or Miss Tarabotti's character at first. Though, that's really only probably because it's been awhile since I've read anything from the Victorian Era. When all I've been reading is urban and contemporary, Victorian is rather a switch.
After several chapters, though, I was hooked! Miss Tarabotti, is very prim and proper for the most part, but she is also a very learned woman, which was looked down on at that time. She also had some great sarcasm that would leak out at the most wonderful times. Not to mention keeping her trusty, silver tipped parasol on hand in case some vampire needed to be smacked in the head. She is a spinster, since her mother did not want to go to the trouble of trying to marry her off. Also, since she doesn't have any kind of classic London beauty, thanks to her father's Italian heritage, her mother just didn't think it likely anyone would want to marry her, and that mentality has been passed on to Alexia. Though that at least could be changing with the arrival of an intelligent American scientist into town.
Now, as for this being a steampunk novel, it does have elements of it, but that is not the main driving force. Actually that seems to be how everything regarding this book is, it's very hard to describe. It's paranormal, Victorian Era, with steampunk elements, comedy, mystery, and romance. I found it to be a very nice mixture of everything. There was only one small thing that I didn't like about this book and that was that every now and then the author got a bit too descriptive, but that is really the only bad thing I can think of to say. So, what do I recommend...this book!! Wonderful!
Oh, and don't forget to check out the blurb for Gail's next book in the Parasol Protectorate series, Changeless.
Blog With Bite Discussion Questions
1. With the rise in popularity of steampunk trends, do you think the dialog and environment created in Soulless fitting within the paranormal genre?
It didn't go really hard core into steampunk, but it did have enough elements of it mixed in with the paranormal that made for its own unique world. I always like it when I run across something that's a little different.
2. For better or worse, Soulless throws together a lot of unconventional story elements. What ones worked for you? What ones didn't? Will you be reading the next book in the series, Changeless?
I did really enjoy this book. It took awhile for me to get used to the dialogue, but once I did I thought it was great. The proper Victorian woman, who made sarcastic comments and killed vamps with a parasol, what's not to love? I also enjoyed her budding romantic experience throughout the book.
3. The comedic tone of the novel was ever present even when the novel was at it's darkest plot-threads. Do you think this added to the depth of the novel and characters or did it trivialize the plot?
I think it added to the depth. I could see where people that like really dark stories might not like it, but that's not what this novel what about. Personally, I tend to be one of those people that make sarcastic comments or jokes or just laugh at very inappropriate times, so I loved the constant comedic undertone!