Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire's second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell's acting troupe's latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a damper on Alexia's enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.
Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?
I won't lie, Carriger pulled out all the stops in this final part to the Parasol Protectorate, she made me laugh, she made me cry (again damn her! I'm blissfully laughing away until she rips my heart out, evil), and she made me cheer my Alexia fan girl cheer, which involves lots of tea and parasol waving (the cats are quite intrigued by this), but more than anything she left me equal parts totally satisfied and lusting for more.
The good news is there is more, all sorts of more Carriger goodness on the way. First up is her new YA series set in the same world, 25 years earlier, that starts with Etiquette and Espionage (which I finished last night and luurved). Then in the fall, be still my heart, she is launching a new series starring none other than PRUDENCE MACCON AKELDAMA. So in other words, all will be right in the world, even though the Parasol Protectorate is concluded, because Carriger is going to keep the awesome coming.
Besides a new and exciting locale, Carriger had oodles of fun with toddlers and infants in this part of the series. Prudence is no end of terror and entertainment, and if she wasn't enough, Ivy has gone and had two of her own as well. There is an amusing running joke about her son Percy spitting up on everyone, it seems to be his main character trait, and in true Carriger style she manages to make small children sound horrible and wonderful good fun all at once. How does she do that?
"Now, Prudence, what is this fuss?" remonstrated her mother.
"No, Dama. No wet!" explained the toddler very clearly now that she did not have the fangs to speak around.
"It's bath night. You don't have a choice. Real ladies are clean ladies," explained her mother, rather sensibly, she thought.
Prudence was having none of it. "Nuh-uh."...
"Dada! No wet?"
"Perhaps we could move bath night to tomorrow," suggested Lord Maccon, succumbing to the plea in his daughter's eyes.
Lord Akeldama brightened.
"Absolutely not," replied Lady Maccon to both of them. "Backbone gentlemen. We must stick to a routine. All the physicians say routine is vital to the well-being of the infant and her proper ethical indoctrination."
The two immortals exchanged the looks of men who knew when they were beaten....
Lord Akeldama nodded. "Indeed. I must say I had not anticipated such a challenge when Professor Lyall first suggested the adoption."
"Yes, it was foolish of all of us to think that Alexia here would produce a biddable child," agreed the sire of said child, implying that any flaw was Alexia's fault and that he would have produced nothing but the most mild-mannered and pliant of offspring.
"Or even one that a vampire could control."
"Or a vampire and a pack of werewolves, for that matter."
Alexia gave them both a look. "I hardly feel I can be entirely at fault. Are you claiming Sidheag is an aberration in the Maccon line?"...
More reveals are made about the various characters surrounding Alexia, some very shocking and some less so, but all riveting. There are several unanticipated twists, and a bang up conclusion that was too funny by half. And of course, all the sly wit you've come to expect from Carriger.
"Another satisfied customer, Mr. Biffy?"I have to say, Carrigers many running jokes, like Captain Featherstonehaugh, never get old.
"Mrs. Colindrikal-Bumbcruncher has the taste level of an ill-educated parboiled potato."
"Revolting female," agreed the Frenchwoman amiably, "and her gowns are always so well made. Makes her that much more vexing. Did you know her daughter is engaged to Captain Featherstonehaugh?"
Biffy raised one eyebrow. "And he's not the first, I hear."
"Why, Mr. Biffy, you talk such scandal."
"You wrong me, Madame Lefoux. I never gossip. I observe. And then relay my observations to practically everyone."
In the end this series surpassed all my expectations. A true master piece that I hope isn't underrated by readers by the fact it's Victorian Steampunk with lots of laughs. These are witty, sharp, very very well written books with a tight plot line full of surprises, and you're doing yourself a disservice if you haven't read them.
Timeless by Gail Carriger
Published by Orbit, March 2012