Title: Soulless (Parasol Protectorate #1)
Author: Gail Carriger
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Weeks ago, on a rainy Friday afternoon, I needed something fun and uplifting to read. The lovely people of the CBR Book Club Facebook page threw a slew of recs at me, and this was one of the ones I ended up with. Y’all are good. This was exactly what I was looking for, and enough outside my usual reading zone that it made me feel happy for expanding my horizons (I’m not always a sci-fi or romance reader, and this one definitely has both involved). I’ve started the second book in the series, and I was going to wait until I finished and just review both at once, but life has gotten in the way so here we go with book one!
To recap, Soulless is the story of Alexia Tarabotti, a Victorian society lady who is resigned herself to being the old maid of the family. Set in a steampunk-flavored London, where vampires and werewolves are the norm, Alexia is a rather ordinary Victorian women things–with the minor difference being that she has no soul. This means she can, with a single bit of skin-on-skin contact, render a supernatural being completely, well, natural. This proves to be a problem when she accidentally kills a vampire and brings Lord Maccon on the scene. A Scottish werewolf, the alpha of his back, and a member of the Bureau of Unnatural Registry, Maccon comes to investigate both the death, and a number of supernatural disappearances that are happening around London.
This book was just fun. It reminded me a lot of is Oscar Wilde wrote steampunk romance novels. Carriger very much captures the feel of Victorian-era London (at least as far as this inexperienced historian can tell) and injects a wonderful sense of humor into the deal. Throw in the mystery of the disappearing beings, and the sexyfun (it’s a real word, trust me) relationship between Alexia and Maccon, and it’s just a fun freaking book. Carriger is a wonderful writer, and she tells a story with a lot of moving parts well.
The first book in the series can get a little heavy on exposition and set up, but this one handles it well. Characters are introduced, relationships explained, motives explored, and all without losing what the heart of the book is. Alexia’s story is interesting enough to keep a reader sustained and invested, wanting to root for this woman whom society has written off. She’s a spitfire and unapologetic and rather fearless when it comes to just doing what she wants. In a time when women were supposed to be pretty and marriable (another real word, I promise) and dainty, she was smart and brazen and ballsy. Basically, I want to see Hayley Atwell play her in a movie, okay? I’m open to ideas on who to play Maccon.
Now to find the time to read the rest of the series….
Rating: 3.5/5 stars.