Soulless by Gail Carriger
Digital Audiobook narrated by Emily Gray
Published by Orbit on October 1, 2009
Series: The Parasol Protectorate #1
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, Vampires
Length: 357 pages or 10 hours 48 minutes
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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?
I need to be honest straight into this and say – Soulless is a bit silly.
This is a book about a declared spinster – a young Victorian lady in her twenties – who just so happens to have no soul. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of her birth, as her father is also soulless. She’s also half-Italian, which is a constant source of difficulty for her in civilized society. She doesn’t really talk about her preternatural state, but she does argue with werewolves, flirt with vampires, and stab people with parasols.
Really, Soulless is a typical cheeky paranormal romance with a steampunk edge, and that’s fine with me. This book is incredibly witty and fun to listen to. Gail Carriger’s writing is always fun.. While I usually roll my eyes at paranormal romance, but adding the snarky protagonist cinches it for me. Can I explain the logic of that? NOPE. But I really like it. It’s the same voice I liked in Just One Damned Thing After Another. Unfortunately, there’s no dinosaurs in Soulless.
There are werewolves with wonderful Scottish accents and very poor manners, so I do forgive the lack of prehistoric beasties.
With any novel of this sort, you get your assortment of quirky characters. And they are all delightful. There’s Ivy Hisslepenny, who is a proper gossip and loves living vicariously through her best friend’s adventures. Lord Akeldama is an eccentric vampire wholes apart from the hive and has exquisite, expensive taste. These are just minor characters and I love them. Alexia herself is high-spirited in all the best ways, tries to follow the rules explicitly and fails spectacularly, and you can’t help but to root for her.
Now, I will say, there are definitely moments where it’s blatantly clear this is not YA. There are scenes that are unapologetically graphic, particularly at the end of the novel. For those with, ah, more delicate constitutions, I would recommend Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series. Both series have the same wit, take place in the same world… one is YA and one is adult.
Usually, I would roll my eyes at the heated scenes. If this was a standard romantic novel, or something taking itself seriously, I would mercilessly tear the sex (or almost sex) scenes apart. But it’s not taking itself seriously at all, and shockingly these scenes somehow managed to further the plot. Which, I’ve got to be honest, I wasn’t expecting. The plot itself wasn’t entirely impressive – I think it is the voice and the characters the make this an entertaining read, but at the end of the day, there’s not a lot of substance to it.
So. This isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s a super fun little story with a lot of chuckles and impropriety and it’s delightful. A great read for when you need an amusing break from reality. And hunkish werewolves.
Who do you favor – vampires or werewolves? I typically enjoy reading vampire stories more, but I liked writing werewolves. What about you? Both? Let me know in the comments!