Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Changeless (Parasol Protectorate series), by Gail Carriger- Review

Spoilerage for previous books, BEWARE!

From Goodreads:
Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

Every bit as funny as the first book in the series, Changeless powers right into the latest adventure without pause.  Introducing several new characters, all of whom are just as unusual and fun as the first set.  Madame Lefoux, a french woman scientist of many eccentricities, Tunstell, a redheaded claviger who is hopelessly attracted to Ivy Hisselpenny and her array of strange hats, not to imagine a whole new pack of Scottish werewolves.  All of whom provide a great deal of entertainment, mystery and new story twists to the series.

If you were worried that Alexia and Conall's dynamic would be ruined by marriage then let me put your mind at rest.  They are, if possible, significantly funnier now that they have to live with each other.  Alexia's peculiar brand of practicality is so perfectly matched to her husbands gruff, abrupt and adorably loving ways, and their banter is a source of constant entertainment.

Carriger delves much more deeply into Conalls background and reveals a great deal more about him, which is enjoyable, but it's the spotlight on the crazy Ivy Hisselpenny where Changeless really shines.  Quirky, oblivious and constantly making the most bizarrely nonsensical statements, all while dressed in the most outlandish outfits, Ivy, a very secondary character in Souless steps up to the plate and makes herself a new favourite in the series.

I was amazed that not only could Carriger keep the silly concept of these books riveting but she manages to expand on all the ground work set up in book the first to make it even better.  Both the ongoing plot lines and the characters excel in Changeless, so that by the end when she comes to her heartbreaking conclusion, I was so attached it made me weepy.  It's that level of attachment that firmly takes these books out of the category of fluff, and firmly places them into a caliber of witty writing you might not assume from their covers or blurbs.  There's a reason this series gets quotes like this one from the formidable Lev Grossman:
"Soulless has all the delicate charm of a Victorian Parasol, and all the wicked force of a Victoria parasol secretly weighted with brass shot and expertly wielded. Ravishing."

Didn't I tell you, you wanted to buy the whole box set? Hmmm?  Told you so.

Changeless, by Gail Carriger
Published by Orbit, April 2010