A Review In Which I Utterly Fail To Express How Truly Awesome This Novel Is
I have on occasion expressed my fascination with the Victorian era and works of steampunk before. Furthermore, my predilection for tales of all things undead is renowned. So you can imagine my delight when I heard about a new novel that blended these two great tastes together. That novel is SOULLESS by Gail Carriger and I have to say it does not disappoint.
Not only does Ms. Carriger bring to life a believable Victorian landscape populated by vampires, werewolves, and ghosts (oh my!) but it is witty, funny, action-packed, romantic, and sexy. I could probably toss in more adjectives like dramatic, suspenseful, and glamorous, but I don’t want to over do it, even though those are still wholly accurate.
Without spoiling too much, the story begins when Miss Alexia Tarabotti, a spinster of Italian heritage, finds herself quite rudely accosted by a vampire of questionable breeding while she was attending a soiree. Honestly, she was only looking for something to eat, and apparently she wasn’t the only one. Not only was the unexpected vampire quite uncouth (how dare he attack her when they hadn’t even been properly introduced), but he was unaware of Alexia’s preternatural ability to negate the supernatural, thus rendering said vampire, um, how shall I say it, impotent? Yes, that’ll do.
After she dispatches her attacker with her trusty parasol and hair stakes, agents of Queen Victoria’s Bureau of Unnatural Registry arrive to investigate. BUR agents Lord Connall Maccon and Professor Randolph Lyall, who happen to be werewolves of high social standing, are well aware of her abilities and her frustrating habit of getting into trouble. Thus begins the mystery she finds herself in, which only gets more intricate and interesting as it progesses.
Along the way we meet her mother and step-family, her best friend Ivy Hisselpenny, the flamboyant vampire Lord Akeldama, and a cast of other incredible characters. The story also has the standard accoutrements associated with steampunk, like dirigibles, steam engines, multi-purpose goggles/spectacles, and diabolical machines built for nefarious scientific experiments. These are not merely scattered throughout as fashionable props, but are expertly woven into an exciting tale.
I will definitely not spoil the ending, but I found it to be a satisfying conclusion to a fantasic first look at the life of an extraordinary woman. I am eagerly awaiting the next two books in the trilogy, both of which arrive this year. CHANGELESS hits shelves on March 30, 2010. (I’ve already pre-ordered it.) The third book, BLAMELESS, is due in September.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough! 10 out of 10! You can find the paperback in bookstores everywhere, and I was also very happy to see it is available in different eBook formats. I really wish there was an audio book version, especially with the production quality that J. Daniel Sawyer’s ArtisticWhispers Productions presented with the first chapter as a podcast teaser. You should definitely give it a listen, and like me, I think you’ll immediately be hooked.