Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Soulless by Gail Carriger

 I had a hard time pinning this novel down. It seemed a little bit like P.G. Wodehouse' humor, almost falls into the urban fantasy or paranormal romance genre, and had some elements of steampunk, too. I picked it up on special advertised on Facebook by the publisher, as I'd been thinking about trying Carriger's series for a while, and found it amusing.

Alexia Tarraboni is a "spinster" (not by today's standards) in Victorian England, the oldest daughter of a respectable family, with two younger and very vapid stepsisters. Alexia is quite well-read, and stubbornly intelligent, which may explain her lack of beaus, though it's often blamed on her mixed heritage, with a father who was Italian - her mother's first husband.

There are several sorts of supernaturals in residence in Carriger's London. The well known types are werewolves, vampires, and ghosts. Alexia herself is a lesser known type - a soulless one, or preternatural. Her main supernatural ability seems to be to remove the abilities of the other types, making them human when she touches them, though they revert immediately after she removes contact.

Alexia has a very contentious relationship with the alpha of the London pack of werewolves, Lord Maccon, a Scottish were who has recently arrived on the scene and challenged the old alpha successfully. It doesn't take long for us to figure out (if you read enough PNR) that the two will soon be romantically entangled, even if they're confused about their feelings through most of the book.

Alexia has a very efficient butler, much in the manner of Jeeves, without the gently sarcastic comments, while Lord Maccon's second in the pack seems to offer the biting comments, instead. She also has a flamingly gay vampire friend who provides her with good guidance and occasional immoral support.

Werewolves and vampires have begun disappearing from the streets, and newly made, ignorant vampires from no known line are showing up in their place, as well. Someone is messing with the natural order of things, and Alexia and her allies must get to the bottom of it somehow. It ain't Sherlock Holmes, but it's a pretty good start to the series. I'm hoping Carriger can continue to keep things light and humorous - even Wodehouse had his off days.

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