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Sometimes you aren’t after a big fantasy read. Sometimes you just want something gentle, and funny and a bit silly. Soulless was all that for me.
My friend gave me the best selling Soulless last year for my 21st, but my book backlist was so long, I never got around to reading it. I finally got around to it last month, and from the blurb my brother and I were were already laughing hard at;
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. 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?
Copyright Gail Carriger.
I have had a bit of a thing about steampunk for awhile now, and though I don’t enjoy reading actual 19th century fiction, I enjoy adventures set in that time period. The mere hint of paranormal romance usually sets my teeth on edge, but the comedy of manners and the steampunk trappings of Carriger’s alternative Victorian England history sucked me in.
I would argue that the novel is more of a romance, with fantasy trappings, rather than a fantasy novel per se. I don’t usually read romances either, but I thoroughly enjoyed the spark between Alexia and Lord Maccon, and by the end of the novel, I was hoping they’d get together. Alexia is quite a feminist character, and I loved that her and Maccon negotiated their romance as equals. The mystery element is light, and there is never any real sense of danger for our protagonist, but I loved the electric interactions between soulless Alexia, and werewolf Maccon, and the alternate history of 19th century history kept me tantalisingly interested in the world Carriger builds.
There are four other books in the Protectorate series, with Carriger working on spin offs as I type. I have heard that later books push the fantasy story element further, and really start utilising the steampunk setting more for plot purpose. In Soulless, I got the impression that the steampunk and the paranormal elements didn’t really serve much purpose, other than to keep readers interested in the romance story, and to attract readers who wouldn’t normally read romantic or erotic fiction.
I enjoyed Soulless, but I’m not rushing out to buy the next couple of books in the series. It’s the perfect holiday read for a beachy day, and great for those who like to mix up their genres and try new stories.
If you like paranormal romance that’s a bit different, and you like steampunk, you’ll probably love this book!
Soulless: 3/5 inky stars