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Friday, June 1, 2012

"Soulless: Book 1 Parasol Protectorate" by Gail Carriger (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit Gail Carriger's Official Website Here

OVERVIEW: 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?

FORMAT: Soulless is the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series. It is a mixture of urban fantasy, mystery, and adventure. It stands at 373 pages and was published by Orbit on October 1, 2009.

ANALYSIS: Like many book enthusiasts I have a massive pile of books that I always vow to read, but never get around to it. I made it a goal to at least try a few of these mysterious books and that is how Soulless came across my path.

Soulless is a mix of urban fantasy, mystery, adventure, and Victorian England. Just the setting of England would have caught my interest, but there was just something about this series that kept calling me and I'm extremely glad I tried it out because I enjoyed every minute of it.

Pretty much from the get-go Soulless is filled with action and adventure. The main character, Alexia Tarabotti is attacked by a vampire at a social gathering. This vampire doesn't seem to understand the complicated code of etiquette that is set forth. Alexia accidently kills the vampire before she can understand why she was attacked, or what/who is leading these rouge vampires.

The whole novel is extremely fast paced. I'm not sure if it was the fairly unique plot (note I said fairly unique, not extremely unique), or the witty dialogue, but whatever it was I was glued to the book and kept wanting to read it.

The general in-a-nutshell plot element is that Alexia is a rare 'supernatural' individual who can actually neutralize the effects of the supernatural. She can turn a vampire human enough to go out during the day, and calm down a werewolf. While this isn't overly unique, it was spun in a way that made it interesting to read while not feeling as if I had read this type of book 100 times before.

The dialogue was fresh and funny. There were certainly comments that had me chuckling a little when I read them. I also believe that Alexia as a main character was thrilling. She was strong and independent, with a humorous streak to her. The characters combined with entertaining dialogue really was what kept me reading page after page.

While Soulless was an entertaining read there were a few quirks that keep nagging at the back of my head. The first is the rather inconsistent character building of the main character. Alexia is a spinster in the English upper society, she will never marry and no one really wants to associate with her. This causes her to have an extremely low opinion of herself, in which she constantly puts herself down. However, if she was so plain and spinster quality she certainly knew how to work her assets to her advantage, which seemed out of character for the way she was developed throughout the book.

An example that comes to mind is when she was talking to another character in the book and she keeps batting eyelashes or positioning herself in a way to make her bust look bigger. For a girl that has low self-esteem batting eyelashes and bosom pushing is usually not the first things they do when talking to guys.

Another quirk of mine during this book was the random sex acts between Alexia and Lord Maccon (a handsome werewolf). These two just randomly seemed to start going at it at the most inappropriate times. They almost did it in the parlor, the middle of a road, and such. The worst was as they are captured and facing near death their sex drive kicks into gear and they are almost about to go all out till they are interrupted. I just don't really see how it furthered the plot, and just seemed sort of random and unnecessary.

While these quirks were a bit quirky, they weren't enough to derail from the entire reading experience. I loved reading Soulless and thought it was just a joy. I might be a bit behind on the times, but Soulless really was worth it – I just wish I hadn't waited so long to read it.


Nayan said...

This has been on my TBR pile for a long time too and I am glad you decided to review this book. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Same here. It's been on my TBR pile and I think I will have to read it before the end of the year.

Cindy said...

It was one of those books I looked at and was always "Oh I should read it" and got distracted. It's a really quick read, I finished the entire book in less than 2 days and I wasn't reading it hardcore non-stop either.

oedalis said...

I stopped reading it. Embraces gender stereotypes like woah. Definitely unfeminist in that even Alexia's best friend is a stereotype of womanhood and does her best to hide her intellect--to her own best friend. It really frames Alexia as the only woman worth a damn which is just a sad statement about how the author sees women. When the male lead basically kiss-rapes Alexia and the book finds it acceptable, I couldn't make myself read anymore. I get this is set in a historical time period that wasn't known for progressive ideas on women but that doesn't mean the female characters ALL have to read like ditzy stereotypes or that the author should frame all of this sexism as acceptable. Someone compared this to Jane Austen, which is eyebrow-raising on its own, but this is a modern book, so the context is quite different.

Sarah said...

Hi Cindy,
I just loved this book. The witty banter, fast pace, intrigue... I would love to ask whether you can think of other books with those features that you enjoyed. I wish I still had this series to look forward to☺️
If you have any suggestions I'd so appreciate it!
Warmly, Sarah


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