(Parasol Protectorate #1)
Release: October 1, 2009
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?
SOULLESS is the first book of the Parasol Protectorate series: a comedy of manners set in Victorian London, full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.
Review by Rose Red:
I've been a fan of steampunk and alternate history stories for a long time and I'm always looking for new books and series. I read Soulless ages ago because one of my friends recommended it to me and I loved it. Unfortunately, I never carried on with the series. I decided that with the release of Gail Carriger's latest book, Imprudence, that it was time to marathon all of her books. So I reread Soulless and I think I love it more than when I first read it. It's a delightful mix of witty banter, romance, and the supernatural. Think Pride and Prejudice meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with a twist.
Soulless follows our heroine, Alexia Tarabotti, a curvy, opinionated spinster who possesses the remarkable distinction of being born without a soul. As such, she is able to nullify all traces of the supernatural by merely touching the skin of any vampire or werewolf. The caveat is that this unique ability only works while maintaining physical contact. If that contact is broken, the person's supernatural powers are restored.
When Alexia is attacked at a London ball by a rather disheveled vampire, she is forced to kill him which she does with a wooden hairpin and a parasol. This event sets the story in motion as Alexia soon discovers vampires are appearing and disappearing all throughout London. The Vampire Hive thinks Alexia's responsible. Lord Maccon, Alpha of the Woolsey werewolf pack and Head of BUR, knows she isn't and tries to determine who is. To top it all off, a shady villain and frightening henchman have their sights set on Alexia.
Soulless is one of the wittiest and smartly written books with one of the best heroines that I've ever read. Rather than rely on the traditional male hero to swoop in and save the day, Alexia embodies tenacity, critical thinking, stubbornness and independence. She is NOT helpless, she is NOT passive, and she is NOT stick thin. Alexia is a twenty-six year old half-Italian woman with a large nose and figure who loves food and dishes out plenty of sass. Not only is she witty but she has a temper that makes reading her interactions with Lord Maccon fun to read. That alone makes the book worth reading.
Add to that a fascinating blend of alternative history where werewolves and vampires helped shaped the English Crown and British politics, and you end up with a brilliant book that moves at a quick pace and delivers a solid story. There was not a single moment this book didn't have my interest. I read it in one sitting and I immediately started the next book after it. I can't what to see what shenanigans Alexia gets into next.
Soulless is exactly what it sells itself as: A comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking. It was utterly charming and I can't recommend it enough!
Recommended for fans of:
Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato
Prince of Hearts by Margaret Foxe