Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Parasol Protectorate, Book 1

by Gail Carriger


Soulless is an absolute hoot: wicked, funny, and addictive. Think urban fantasy (vampires and werewolves and ghosts, oh my) meets Victorian comedy of manners romp, with a touch of cyberpunk in the background as chaperone. Highly original, extremely well done, and just tremendous fun.

Victorian spinster Alexia Tarabotti is half Italian, unfashionably olive skinned, well endowed in the nasal department, bookish, prickly, and possessed of a rather forceful personality... none of which add to her popularity and all of which mean her spinster state is unlikely to change.  She’s also soulless. That doesn’t mean she’s unfeeling or undead, merely that, for example, while she has impeccable taste, she lacks the extra something that lets others appreciate what makes great art great. Being soulless also gives her the ability to negate supernatural powers. Which is how she accidentally ends up with a dead vampire and a ruined treacle tart, being questioned by gorgeous but maddening alpha werewolf and royal investigator, Lord Maccon.

Life continues to get interesting as Alexia finds herself in the middle of strange events involving unexpected vampire appearances and disappearances, a waxen-faced stalker, and new reasons to find Lord Maccon maddening. Will she end up lifeless as well as soulless or just give her family new reason to consider her a social embarrassment? And will there be tea while we decide?

The story itself is satisfying, with a solid plot, a fresh idea about the basis of supernatural powers, and a fun variation on the usual romantic dance. However, this is a book made memorable by its considerable style rather than the plot substance. It’s an engaging romp, full of wit and humor, with a storytelling voice that is ultra-civilized, but skewed heavily to the absurd. The main characters are very well drawn (always inquisitive, always analytical Alexia’s response to some new amatory experiences rings dead true and is absolutely hilarious in context) and the secondary characters are equally real and almost as much fun. Soulless left me completely charmed, highly amused, and definitely wanting more.

Highly recommended.

The Book

Orbit / Hachette Group
October 2009
Mass market paperback
Fantasy / Paranormal romance
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The Reviewer

Kim Malo
Reviewed 2009
© 2009