Published by Orbit on October 1, 2009
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?
And here is the point I became ride or die for Miss Carriger.
I love THE FINISHING SCHOOL series and Moira Quirk is a fabulous narrator, but Emily Gray’s performances for PARASOL PROTECTORATE are really spectacular. But it’s not just narrator that makes SOULLESS so good. Gail Carriger absolutely knows what she is about. Let me show you…
Like FS’s MC Sophronia, Alexia Tarabotti is as sassy as a lady can get away with in this time period. But being a spinster gives Alexia freedom that Sophronia does not have. Her ancestry and preternatural status only adds to that. Alexia isn’t desirable by society and so she does not have the expectation to try. She can be as strange and quirky as she likes, she has that luxury. She’s a lot like Sidheag in that way.
Speaking of Sidheag Macon, anyone remember that many greats grandfather of hers? Say hello to Conoll, the main squeeze of PP. If you liked Sidheag, Lord Maccon, Earl of Woollsey and Alpha of the London pack is your werewolf. His wit is as dry as they come, a perfect match for Alexia. She’s a grumpy, no bullshit kind of werewolf who is loyal to a fault and quite swoony if I do say so myself. Screw Niall, I want Conoll.
As PARASOL PROTECTORATE novels go, SOULLESS is actually one of the weaker ones. However that’s saying a lot because it’s still a solid 4 nuts. SOULLESS is your establishing story. You have many characters to introduce, a world to explain, and a tone to set. Plus it has to be accessible for new readers in the universe. Carriger does wonders with all that in mind.
There are so many wonderful characters in this series, but we get our introductions to a few we only glimpsed in FINISHING SCHOOL.
-First, Lord Akeldama, dandy vampire extraordinaire. Sure, he shows up plenty in FS, but this series is where he is at his best. The beloved vampire takes center stage in all his superb glory, a would become important later on. And yet, he is quite the central character.
-Why hello Professor Lyall. The ever suffering beta of Woollsey pack shows up in one of the later FINISHING SCHOOL novels. But he doesn’t come into his own until this series and only improves, in my opinion, in later novels. While Lord Maccon’s Beta, he’s also a bit like his minder and babysitter as well. He spends a great deal of time picking up after the Alpha and giving advice on how he should behave. Lord knows the werewolf can’t do it himself.
-The Hisselpennys may not immediately jump out from your memory but you may find that the name rings a bell. Alexia’s best friend is in fact the daughter of Sophronia’s bitchy older sister and the husband she marries late in the FS series. Ivy’s taste in hats immediately becomes much more humorous when you take into account the reactions her mother must have behind closed doors.
SOULLESS is a great start to the series and I’m tempted to get my hands on the new illustrated edition just for the sake of my collection. The narrator, Emily Gray, is highly worth the time it takes to listen to the book on audio and I recommend all Carriger fans experience the books this way at least once.
What’s your favorite book in the PARASOLVERSE? Share your pick in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,