Saturday, 8 May 2010

Soulless by Gail Carriger

**** 1/2
Alexia Tarrabotti is a spinster, however, she also has a dead Italian father, olive skin and a big nose, rather advanced opinions for a woman in Victorian times and she has no soul.  It is her distinct lack of soul that makes her a rarity and also leads to her accidently killing a vampire when he gets a bit peckish at a society event and the treacle tart obviously wasn't to his taste.  Lord Maccon, gorgeous but an alpha werewolf, has to investigate which leads to the discovery that although there are some new, horrifically bad mannered and terribly dressed vampires appearing, a considerable number of established vamps and werewolves have vanished.  Unfortunately for Alexia, her soulless state, which means she turns the supernatural into humans on her touch, is becoming interesting to a number of different parties who believe the mysterious happenings revolve around her.  This leads to Lord Maccon having to protect her, but who's going to protect them from each other?  This is the first book in the parasol protectorate series.
Well, this is a strange one...another recommendation from Amazon, which probably stems from my past vampire crazes and Amelia Peabody choices (more about those in other posts!).  Alexia is in many ways like Amelia, outspoken, awkward and confrontational with a large, overly attractive man (or werewolf in this case).  She also shares the same penchant for parasols to get her out of trouble!  Set in an alternative Victorian period where werewolves and vampires are part of society and have helped create the British Empire.  It comes under the steampunk genre (which I'd never heard of until this, how sheltered am I?!) but is really a mix of supernatural mystery and romance with Lord Maccon being a toothier and hairier hero than most but it works.  The events surrounding the missing supernaturals leads to Alexia and Maccon coming together, yes, they squabble but it obvious where it's all heading...even with the vague references about hedgehogs.
As a supporting character I really like Professor Lyall, the beta, with his slightly put upon, mannered world weariness...I hope there's lots more of him in the rest of the series.
It gets 4 and a half stars for being a funny, sexy read.  It's not thought provoking but Alexia is an engaging heroine and there's lots of scope for future books.