Monday, December 21, 2009

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Book Description:
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

Before I read this book, I'd never heard of "steampunk." I had no idea what it referred to. Vaguely as I understand it, it's a literary genre that takes place in the late Victorian age, in which the plotlines contain scientists and inventions that use steam in a fantastical kind of way. This book is considered steampunk, but it is also a paranormal involving werewolves, vampires and one other supernatural being, Alexia Tarabotti, who has the dubious distinction of being able to neutralize the powers of said supernaturals. She is considered "soulless." Naturally, being a woman from the upper echelons of London society, accustomed to good manners and breeding, the sensible side of her dislikes this name for her "power", yet her common sense accepts it. She is indeed soulless, but that does not mean she is dispassionate about things. She just happens to be very matter of fact and sure of herself. She is not the overly excitable type, prone to swooning and reaching for her smelling salts, though a certain Connal Maccon, Lord Woolsey does get her heart beating faster!

It took me a while to like Alexia, but it took me a while to get into the book at all since I was reading it slowly, only at the gym in half hour intervals on the elliptical. But, as I got further into the book, I began to read the book more often, not just at the gym, and wound up really liking it! As the above blurb says, Alexia finds herself attacked by a vampire and winds up killing him! A no-no in the alternate Victorian society depicted in this book. In this alternate London, vampires and werewolves are accepted in society. There are "hives" for the vampires and "packs" for the werewolves. One particular werewolf that I loved was Lord Woolsey, an alpha male from the Scottish Highlands that is the head of BUR (they oversee all the supernatural goings on). He and Alexia tangle and butt heads often, and soon more happens between them, which I simply loved! Alexia, labeled a spinster, has a healthy appetite for food - and for matters of a more romantic bent. Lord Woolsey's animal tendencies and forceful manner is a good match for her.

Alexia and Lord Woolsey, along with some of the other interesting side characters in the book are trying to get to the bottom of what or who is killing rogue vampires and werewolves - and why? This is not something that is normal, and it is alarming. There is also someone trying to kidnap Alexia - a strange wax faced man that scares her and haunts her dreams. What is going on - and can Lord Woolsey save her when he's "indisposed" during the Full Moon?

Give this unusual and enjoyable book a try if you're into historical paranormals and don't mind a little romance and sex with naked werewolves! It's well written, clever and amusing. I recommend it!



Aarti said...

I read this one and thought it was fun. A little on the cheesy side at points, but witty :-)

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Aarti - I liked it, but it took me a while to warm up to it. The love interest between Connall and Alexia is what made it for me. The actual plot about the disappearing vampires - eh, I could have cared less! Still, it was a paranormal historical which is what I was after and it scratched that itch for me in that regard.

Renee said...

This was such a fun book! I could feel the author having a great time along with me as I read it. I can't wait for the next book in the series! :-)

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Renee, yes, I'm sure she had fun writing it, especially the scenes with Lord Woolsey in his altogether transforming back to a human. I really loved his character!

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