Soulless by Gail Carriger
This is my first foray into light steampunk, in this case an alternate Victorian England overlayed with advanced mechanicals and technology. Werewolves and vampires are an accepted part of society, at least in Britain, and the science and technological advances are thanks in part to the vampires, who are interested in the sciences for reasons of their own. Actually, for me it read more like a paranormal romance with some steampunk elements.
I would also consider the book a comedy of manners, reminiscent of Austen’s stories, with vampires and others included in high society. Alexia Tarabotti is a soulless spinster who would rather sit in the library having tea than attend the fancy ball. Unfortunately, in the first scene of the book, that’s where she is rudely attacked by a vampire, and she of course has no choice but to kill him. Luckily her soullessness gives her the ability to negate the magic in others – vampires lose their fangs, werewolves become human even on full moons.
Miss Tarabotti continues. “It was as though he had never been trained in hive etiquette, no social class at all. He was almost a boor.” It was a word she had never thought to apply to a vampire. (pg. 19)
Lord Maccon is in charge of the investigation in to the incident and it of course leads to a larger mystery. Vampires and werewolves have started disappearing, but no one knows who is responsible and what their nefarious plans are.
Lord Maccon, who is an Alpha werewolf, by the way sets out to discover what is happening, and Alexia being the spunky, independent woman that she is can’t keep her noise out of it, although she does enjoy a good treacle tart along the way. The banter between the two of them is amusing and Alexia’s observations about society and her family, who “specialized in being both inconvenient and asinine,” (pg. 24) are pitch perfect. The romantic tension comes out in the two’s teasing of each other and the occasional unavoidable manhandling. Of course, Lord Maccon is quite a catch for any young woman, especially one who is over the hill and not stereotypically beautiful for the time to boot.
I love Alexia. She’s fiesty, funny, well-read, unapologetic, and a food lover. She’s a woman I can respect.
Sexy werewolves, flamboyant vampires, astounding dirigibles. Romance, comedy, danger. Really how could it miss? It’s definitely a fun read.
Soulless fits in perfectly with SteamPink Week being hosted by vvB32 Reads. If you get a chance, head over there for a remarkable train ride.
First published September 4, 2009
Alex Award 2010
Parasol Protectorate #1
Challenges: 100+, Speculative Fiction
I won my copy and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.