Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate, Book 1)
by Gail Carriger
Copyright: 2009 Orbit Books
Edition: Trade Paperback
Source: Local Library
5 / 5 Stars
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many 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 vampire appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? With 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?
I found this debut novel in this series to be truly delightful and engaging. The witty dialogue, especially between Alexia and Lord Maccon, caught my attention right from the beginning, and had me hooked almost immediately. I found myself laughing quite often at the silliness of the situations Alexia often found herself caught in the middle of and how she managed to extricate herself. Apprently a lot of the conflict between Lord Maccon and Alexia began over an incident involving a hedgehog and I was quite glad to discover that we do find out exactly what this incident is all about.
The world that Ms. Carriger created was inventive and fun. The werewolves, vampires, and other supernatural beings are all integrated in London society and have a place in society. There is a combination of science and old London society that is quite fascinating in this novel, even if the old standards of werewolves and vampires offer nothing relatively fresh in the area of the supernatural. I kept envisioning the vampires as bees as they were often referred to as "hives" and "belonging to a hive" and I couldn't get the image out of my mind. Furthermore, as it is the queen who can only reproduce new vampires, the image became more further implanted that way. Alexia, as a preternatural, was a breath of fresh air. She is the antithesis to a supernatural as she has the power to neutralize the effects of a supernatural being and turn them almost human while she is touching them. The scene where she helps Lord Akeldama see the sun for the first time in hundreds of years is very touching. I'm very curious as to how Ms. Carriger will develop the theme for preternaturals in her future novels as I found the concept truly original and intriguing.
The interaction and sexual intensity between Lord Maccon and Alexia was fun and full of humour. It made for some of the best scenes involving witty dialogue in the novel. As they are both Alpha in their respective states, it made for a lot of interesting scenes, especially when one or the other found themselves in compromising or vulnerable positions. And as some of the scenes were witnessed by third parties, it brought the hilarity to even higher proportions.
Soulless was a fun and unique novel, involving a lot of witty and intriguing dialogue. Although it took me a long time to read it, it was definitely not because I found the novel boring or uninteresting. I have already bought Changeless and am definitely looking forward to Blameless when it is released in September.