18 May, 2010

EXAMINED: Soulless by Gail Carriger


This book is from my local library
Picture courtesy of Good Reads

Gail Carriger has reimagined the Victorian era to include vampires, werewolves, and the soulless. Her female main character, Miss Alexia Tarabotti, belongs in this third category. She is otherwise known as the preternatural; vampires and werewolves being supernatural.

Miss Tarabotti suffers some of the worst difficulties that may plague a woman in her time. Namely, being a spinster, Italian and soulless. So, of course, she is quite surprised and put out when a ravenous vampire attempts to attack her, whilst she has tea. One of the very few that can ward off the supernatural by returning them to their human state with skin contact, it seems quite a mystery why she would be the chosen victim of a vampire.

This mystery kicks off the story in SOULLESS. Miss Tarabotti is joined by Lord Maccon of the BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry), who also happens to be the local werewolf Alpha. Together they will have to navigate the best of London's society to find out why werewolves and vampires are going missing. Aided by Lord Maccon's Beta and the vampire Lord Akeldama, Alexia sets off to prove that she is not involved in the recent disappearances.

I had seen this book in the bookstore many times before I even picked it up. Then, I read the back cover several times. Each time, I passed on the novel, for one superficial reason or another. Finally, I decided that I was going to read it. (Mostly, because I had a craving for something steampunk, but I wanted something a little lighter than the usual steampunk fare.)

The first sentence, though rather simple, really drew me in. I couldn't stop reading. I couldn't stop laughing. But most of all, I couldn't stop rooting for the heroine, Miss Alexia Tarabotti. She does an admirable job of warding off the undesirables with her parasol. That includes the wax-faced man who seems intent on her death, and her odious mother, a great parody of the 'proper' Victorian woman.

Her relationship with Lord Maccon has a decidedly scandalous nature to it, for the Victorian time. Carriger has written these scenes very well. After all, Miss Tarabotti is well past the age of expecting marraige; therefore, she has more freedom than the average woman. And she doesn't expect to trap Lord Maccon. Also, considering that werewolves, vampires and dirigibles are a part of everyday life, one can forgive the sexual encounters of the two, which (mostly) happen in private. 

Because I tend to read fantasy, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance, I am used to reading about vampires and werewolves. But, SOULLESS had a new take on the phenomenon. She manages to seamlessly incorporate the supernatural into known historical events (such as the rise of the British Empire) and create a reasonable explanation for their existence.

What I really liked about Carriger's novel was all of the different strings that she brought together to tell the story. There is the historical aspect to the novel. There is steampunk. There is paranormal romance. And somehow, they coexist with humor for a really absorbing read.

My Examination Results:
3/5 for plot
4/5 for characters
3.5/5 for language

10.5/15 Recommend

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