Monday, June 11, 2012

Soulless (book review)

Soulless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel by Gail Carriger

“To put the pudding in the puff: she had retreated to the library, her favourite sanctuary in any house, only to happen upon an unexpected vampire. She glared at the vampire”

That, my friends, is why I read this book.
It, in short, is awesome. I have never read such a witty and engaging novel in all my years. Far from being over the top and pretentious despite being set in Victorian England, this book relishes the absurdities of social etiquette, such as having a specific gown for carriage riding and another for walking in the park. While reading this book I often got the notion that I was enjoying a tea party with friends; we follow the social rules but know nothing of why they exist. Alexia Tarabotti is like this. She follows (most of) the social norms but you get the feeling that she’s secretly laughing at them. Multiple times she reminds people to be mindful of her feminine sensibilities but later she will question why women aren’t allowed to hold high powered jobs.
She also has no soul, which makes for quite a few social faux pas, on both her end as well as the vampires who try to attack her. Whenever Alexia touches a supernatural creature such as a vampire or werewolf (and there are a lot of these walking around England) they revert back to their mortal selves.
Alexia is a bundle of contradictions, but in a good way. Plus, she is sassy and polite at the same time. What’s not to love? The other characters are great as well. Lord Maccon is the fierce yet emotional werewolf who challenges Alexia at every corner, Lord Akeldama is the dramatic vampire who loves pretty things (hats, shoes, men), and Professor Lyall is just trying to stay sane. Add in Alexia’s fashion-challenged friend Miss Hisselpenny and a spate of vampires appearing as if out of nowhere and you have one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.
I love this world that Carriger has created. Polite vampires and rude werewolves are just the tip of the iceberg in this alternate universe. Soulless is a mix of genres: steampunk, romance, comedy, supernatural, plus more that I cannot think of at the moment. Needless to say, there’s something for everyone here. What’s even better is that this is only book one of the series ‘The Parasol Protectorate’
I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. Well done, Carriger.

If you've read this book before please let me know what you thought in the comments. You can follow Gail Carriger at  or at

Themes: Parasole Protectorate, Gail Carriger, supernatural, steam punk, steampunk, romance, comedy, Lord Maccon, Lord Akeldama, Professor Lyall, werewolves, vampires, Alexia Tarabotti, Ivy Hisselpenny, hats, Victorian era

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