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?
A friend at work has been singing this series' praises for awhile, and it was on the back burner of the to-be-read list as something of definite interest, to get to when I had a moment in my monumental reading piles. Then the hubby went to visit some family in Seattle, that mecca of Steampunk, and ran into Soulless in one of the many bookstores. He read that is was Jane Austen-esque with Steampunk, Vampires and Werewolves and he knew immediately I'd love it. Smart boy that one. So he bought me the box set for Christmas and I've been on a Parasol Protectorate bender ever since.
Funny, lighthearted and teaming with outrageous adventure and mystery, Carriger has created a main character to capture your heart and leave you chortling at the same time. Alexia is incredibly practical in an exotic London where very little around her is as practical as herself. How her practicality plays off the often absurd situations she gets herself into is unendingly humorous, and I spent a great deal of this book laughing until I cried.
"But, Alexia, really, it simply is not the done thing to hit a vampire, with a parasol or otherwise!"
Miss Tarabotti sighed but secretly agreed with her friend. There weren't very many vampires skulking around London society, never had been, but the few hives that were in residence included politicians, landholders, and some very important noblemen among their membership. To indiscriminately whack about with one's parasol among such luminaries was social suicide.Carrigers mixing of multiple different genres, Steampunk, Werewolves, and Vampires is what really makes Alexia's predicaments work. The political and social set up of her London, and how Alexia fits into it as a prenatural are unique yet written in a way that makes it believable and enjoyable. The endless conflicts, be them downright dangerous or just social suicide are both funny and make for page turning pacing.
Miss Hisselpenny continued. "It's simply too outrageous. What's next? Charging indiscriminately about the House of Lords, throwing jam at the local supernatural set during nighttime session?"
Alexia giggled at the leaps made by Ivy's imagination.
"Oh no, now I am giving you ideas." Ivy pressed her forehead dramatically with one gloved hand.
Nothing is quite as captivating or funny though, as the dynamic between Miss Tarabotti and Lord Maccon. They both drive each other to distraction be it by inappropriate arguing or by inappropriate intimacy, and their scenes together, especially with the added Victorian social etiquette are uproariously funny.
Lord Maccon, back to his customary annoyed state, seemed to have turned all his considerable aggravation on to his Beta instead of Miss Tarabotti for once.A truly funny page turner that had me rushing on to the second book, Changeless, without pause. I can't recommend this series enough, do yourself a favour and buy yourself the box set, you won't regret it.
Alexia decided, then and there, that Lord Conall Maccon clearly had only two modes of operation: annoyed and aroused. She wondered which one she would prefer to deal with on a regular basis. Her body joined in that discussion without shame, and she actually managed to shock herself into continued silence...
Alexia came back to her senses finally and straightened her hat. She pulled up on the neckline of her dress at the shoulder and fluffed out the fall of her bustle. Then she realized she had just engaged in a protracted act of lewdness, bordering on marital relations, in a public street, with Lord Maccon! She fervently hoped that very street would open up and swallow her whole. She became even hotter than she had been moments before, this time with abject humiliation. This was, it must be admitted, a far less pleasant sensation.
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Published by Orbit, October 2009