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Soulless by Gail Carriger

I'd seen this cover batted about the internets for awhile and I admired it at every encounter. It really is effective, I think, in giving you an accurate and enticing glimpse into the goods inside. The slant of the modern font, the steampunky parasol, the charmingly off kilter stance of the heroine. Put that together with it's killer tagline,
"A novel of vampires, werewolves, and parasols."
It was pretty much a foregone conclusion I'd be picking Soulless up. Then at BEA I happened to turn a corner and come across a delightful lady sitting at a small table at the Orbit booth. I approached and she smiled and inquired as to whether I would like some tea and shortbread. Oh, and perhaps a signed copy of her book? I nodded, completely charmed, accepted a cookie, and then caught sight of the cover of her book. It was Soulless! And the lovely lady was Gail Carriger.

Miss Alexia Tarrabotti is larger than both the stuffy Victorian social mores and the stiff stays of her corset allow. Being half Italian, well past the age of eligibility, and completely without a soul, she spends most of her time reading, chaperoning her half-sisters to a series of insipid balls, and trying to avoid embarrassing encounters with a variety of supernatural creatures roaming London these days. You see, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, the whole bit are out and about and accepted in society. Part of their makeup includes an overabundance of soul, while Alexia suffers from an utter lack. As a result, she is able to cancel out their supernatural abilites with a mere touch of her hand. Known as a preternatural, she is a rare commodity indeed and no one but a few well-placed, well-connected vampires and werewolves know what she is and what she could be used for. When she unexpectedly encounters a rogue vampire at a fancy ball, Alexia does the only sensible thing and stakes him on the spot. Enter the irascible Lord Maccon--the Scottish alpha werewolf of a local pack. On orders from the Queen herself to investigate the incident, this is not the first run-in Lord Maccon and Alexia have had. And, when Alexia expresses her determination to remain involved in the case, it is clear it will not be the last.

Fun, fun, fun. That is what this book is. I found myself completely won over by Alexia. And Lord Maccon. They're just so very thrown together and they are just so very much fun to be with. It was nice to read about a relationship full of tension and romance, but without an interfering third party or one party who persists in being intolerably stupid or thick about things. Don't get me wrong. There are misunderstandings and miscommunications and a few other mis-es. But the whole thing is so enchanting and light-hearted. And it centers on two (for lack of a better word)good people. They have their quirks and idiosyncracies, but they are also both admirable and spunky and full to the brim of life and passion and personality. Soulless spans several genres (urban fantasy, historical, steampunk, comedy of manners, romance) and it makes fun of and love to them all. Though things did grow a bit silly for me at the very end (I found myself longing for a little more gravity between the lead characters), my affection for them kept me reading. Like the title font, Alexia is quite modern in her sensibilities and she is nothing if not uncompromising. With her modernity comes a few more heated scenarios than one might expect in her situation. At the same time Ms. Carriger makes Miss Tarrabotti hyperaware of every flaw and foible. Buffeted by the disapproval and dislike of her family and society, she is skeptical of the motivations of anyone expressing admiration or interest. As a result, she longs for home and love at the same time as she holds herself aloof from those who might be interested in getting close to her. I, myself, am quite fond of her and found her very sympathetic. I look forward to Changeless--the second installment in the Parasol Protectorate series. Soulless is due out September 29th.

Comments

  1. This sounds right up my alley! Thank you for this great review/recommendation.

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  2. Wait, is this out? I have been looking so forward to reading it.

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  3. Oh, wait, never mind. I thought you meant the second installment comes out in sept. It's THIS one! Okay. Guess I wait.

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  4. Also, I meant to add how happy I am that the cover fits the story, because I, too, LOVE that cover!!! Okay, I'll stop leaving comments now!

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  5. Great review. I really want to read this one as well. I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed it.

    -Lauren

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  6. Juju, you're welcome. It's a rollicking good time.

    CJ, lol! You can comment as much as you like. Sorry for the confusion. Yeah, SOULLESS is out end of Sept. and CHANGELESS (the sequel) is out in April, I believe.

    Lauren, it was just what the doctor ordered. I'd been a bit bogged down in a book that was making me incredibly tense and anxious. SOULLESS pulled me right out of it.

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  7. I can't wait for this book! So glad you gave it a good review:)

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  8. This book made me happy. It's just FUN. I'm expecting it to be a hit.

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  9. Mandi, yep, solid read with fun characters across the board. The butler and best friend are particularly winning.

    Janice, exactly! I knew I'd fall for it after your review. It's gonna be fun to sit back and watch it hit. :)

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  10. i'm with you - that is one fab, fab cover. i would read the book for the cover alone even though i am really not a vampire person.

    and - 'parasol protectorate' - haha!

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  11. Great review! This one is in the to read pile so I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. It sounded like it could be a lot of fun, but I was a little afraid it might be too quirky. After reading your review, I'm looking forward to it, though.

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  12. This cover's been catching my eye too. Your review convinces me I have to pick it up.

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  13. Loved reading your review, this book sounds like a very interesting read. Like you, I've seen this book around in many place on the internet, and I've been curious. Need to be sure to check this one out. Thanks!

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  14. M, I know. Isn't that a hilariously awesome series title? I love it.

    Kristen, I had the same qualms! That's why I didn't get to it before now. But after reading Janicu's review I felt sure it would be for me. And it was. :)

    Rhiannon, I just love it when a cover works so well out there. And, in this case, the inside is happily just as good as the promise on the outside.

    Donna, thanks and you're welcome! :) I'm glad it's getting some good early exposure. I'm going to enjoy watching it go over after it's published. Hope you enjoy it.

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  15. I totally dig this cover.

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  16. Michelle, *nods* it's a good'un.

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  17. I am soooo jealous you have read this already. Ana I think is hoarding our copy of the book, and I'm just gonna have to content myself with your awesome review!

    It really sounds fabulous. I'm even more excited to read it now!

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  18. Thea, I thought you guys had a copy in your possession. That Ana and her hoarding.... :) It really was a fun read and Alexia is a refreshingly robust character.

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