Soulless by Gail Carriger
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
As soon as I read the line, “A novel of vampires, werewolves and parasols,” I knew I was going to like Gail Carriger. She did not disappoint me. Soulless was a romp through a wildly unpredictable Victorian/Steampunk landscape, unlike any I’ve visited to date. Carriger’s world building is first rate, and the characters, hilarious in all their pompous speech and manners.
In a twist I’ve never seen before, our heroine, Alexia Tarabotti, is a preternatural, and thus has no soul. Vampires, werewolves, and other supernaturals have just oodles of soul, but not our pragmatic spinster, Miss Tarabotti. Naturally, she doesn’t let a little thing like being soulless slow her down a bit, and often enjoys the gift that comes along with it to a great extent. Namely, when Alexia touches any werewolf or vampire, she renders him or her mortal, or human, for as long as she maintains bodily contact with them. Vampire fangs disappear instantly, much to the shock of any vamp foolish enough to think he’s going to nosh on Miss Tarabotti. Werewolves watch their fur retract in front of their eyes, which also turn human, losing the glow their furrier nature gives them.
The hilarious one-liners delivered by this cast of characters are priceless, playing on the restrictive social customs of the era as might be imagined if the world was filled with vampires and werewolves capering about at fancy dress balls and dinner engagements. I enjoyed Soulless so much, I started immediately on the second book of the series, Changeless. (There are five books out, so far.)
I will say, it took me a few chapters to really become invested in the main characters. They were interesting, but so different from any characters I’ve encountered before, I wasn’t sure how to take them. Don’t be expecting your typical paranormal romance type Alpha werewolf in the lead male character, for instance. Lord Conall Maccon is big all right, but loud, gruff, bumbling…kind of dorky, really, at times. And with Alexia being so upright and spinsterly, I thought there would be no way I would find them a romantic couple. I was wrong. Soon enough, they charmed me entirely, and became endearingly romantic, even while muttering lines like “Impossible woman!” and “Insufferable man!” They are perfectly suited to one another, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series, one right after another, preferably.
Funny stuff, this, with just enough Creep Factor thrown in to keep it interesting and unpredictable. Forget your preconceptions, and just enjoy this series for what it is–great fun.
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