My Thoughts: Wow, this book was a lot of fun to read. The blurb is a spot-on indication of what you'll find in the book - tongue in cheek stuff, a heroine who is a force of nature, and a romance thrown in. The author calls the book an "urbane fantasy", and from what I can see there's an overlap of genres here. There are romantic elements, urban fantasy elements, a very Victorian setting, and a dash of Steampunk. I couldn't help mentally hearing the words in a proper English accent. First, no one here says "parasol", so I had to, and second because of the style of the language. There was even a nod to the old-fashioned in the way the chapters were titled ("Our Heroine Ignores Good Advice" is just one example). Along with the writing, there are a lot of references to fashions, manners and day to day life of the Victorian time period.
This book is also a romance. While this is Victorian England so no sex before marriage, there are serious shenanigans going on that are decidedly more modern than this era. Even knowing what a free spirit Alexia is, there are a few scenes where some artistic license takes place in terms of Alexia's reactions to her love interest. This was a slightly less believable part of Alexia's character, but we're reading a book with werewolves and vampires here, so I didn't dwell on it. The part that irritated me was the repetition of Alexia's "flaws" which she and her family were concerned about: that Italian nose, dark complexion, and inability to be controlled. I'd prefer Alexia to have been less repetitive in worrying about these silly things, thinking no one wants to marry someone like that.
Overall: This book is going to be popular. It's as fun as it looks, I promise you, and I love that this feels like something new. I wanted to pick it up as soon as possible whenever I had to put it down. There's plenty of action, sly wit, and romance going on to keep the pages turning and I will be reading the second book, Changeless.
This is the first book in The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. Best I can tell right now this going to be a trilogy. The second book in the series "Changeless" is due out April 2010. This was a fun read; very creative and fast moving.
Alexia is one of the Soulless; basically she was born without a soul. As a Soulless, or preternatural person, she can nullify those with excessive soul, in this case vampires and werewolves. The whole book takes place in an alternate Victorian era Great Britain. The supernaturals have been integrated into British society. Alexia finds her self entangled in a mystery when some vampires and werewolves begin to go missing and other rogue vampires mysteriously appear. Alexia finds that she herself is in danger of being kidnapped. She ends up being involved with the Alpha werewolf of the region, the very muscular and somewhat uncouth, Lord Maccon; in an effort to figure out what is happening. Despite their differences, she finds herself drawn to Lord Maccon and wonders what he wants with a 25 year old spinster like herself.
This book was a fun read. The plot clicks along pretty good pace and Alexia and Lord Maccon have great chemistry together. Alexia is a rebel for her time and has a wonderful biting sense of humor as well as a great sense of self. She is a great character. There were a number of interesting characters in this book; from Alexia's flamboyant rogue vampire friend, to Lord Maccon, to Alexia's butler...the characters are what propel this story and make it intriguing.
There is also a lot of clever world-building in this book. The way Carriger has integrated the supernatural population into Victorian London is clever and seamless. I really enjoyed this twist on the legions of paranormal books out there. The book had me laughing out loud at many points. The scenes between Lord Maccon and Alexia were done tastefully and were very steamy and enrapturing; throwing a good dash of Victorian romance into this book. All in all it was a hard book to put down and when I was finished with it I wanted more.
There were only a couple small things that irritated me about this book. The first was the continuous descriptions of Alexia; we read about her strong nose and olive toned skin a billion times. It got old and I started skimming over many of the repetitive descriptions. I also thought that the story didn't have as much bite as it should have; the action scenes were only so-so and the peril never really seemed as perilous as it should have. Because of this the book seemed a bit fluffly to me at times; that's not to say it wasn't a fun read...it was just more fluff than substance at parts.
All in all I did really enjoy this book. It is a great start to a new series and I absolutely cannot wait to read the next book "Changeless".
Much of the pleasure in reading Soulless is in the telling of the story as the story itself. Gail Carriger is a wordsmith and has created more than just an introduction to a new series, instead she has also given us a work which is simply delightful to read in how she plays with words and context. With chapter titles such as such as "Our Heroine Ignores Good Advice", Carriger provides a wink and a nudge to the literary style of the era in which the book is set.
Like all series firsts, Soulless introduces us to characters, world builds and lays the foundation on which the series will be built. There is also romance, adventure, mystery and some truly appalling hats -- all of which put a smile on my face.
Even though some of the humor might be lost on younger readers who might not be as familiar with 19th century England, I would venture to guess that there are many who would enjoy this series regardless. There is some nudity (you can't have werewolves without nudity), sex and violence but it's less graphic than the vampire academy series which is a young adult series and as such, I would be comfortable with this series in the hands of ninth graders who might get some of the humor after having slogged through some authors from the era in which the series is set.
I honestly enjoyed this book and I am sure it will popular, it's as fun to read as the cover is to look at.
I must be the oddball out here, but I lost intrest in this book about 1/2 way through. The writing style grew tiresome to me after a while. When you get to the point where you are forcing yourself to read just to finish, it takes the enjoyment out.
While the beginning of the book kept my full attention, as it wore on, it started to slow down. I got to the point I just didnt care about it anymore. :(
This book was a completely delightful read. Ms Carriger takes an interesting take on the paranormal belief that vampires are souless beings stating that in stead of having no souls they have too much, and that a counterpart exists. This natural counterbalance, the preternatural, have no soul. But don't mistake having too much soul or none at all as any indication of good or evil. In this respect Carriger explores the philosophical debate of whether or not people are born evil or if we are all capable of atrocious deeds. And she does this while managing to write a delightfully funny, suspenseful, romantic romp of a Victorian steampunk urban fantasy novel. Read it. If you are a fan of urban fantasy, historical fantasy, or steampunk (or all three like me) you won't be disappointed.
We are first introduced to Alexia Tarabotti when she is attacked by a rove (hiveless) vampire. After accidentally killing him she has to deal with the consequences. One of which is dealing with Lord Conall Maccoon Alpha of the local werewolves and agent to Queen Victoria's Shadow Parliament. These two have tangled before and it ended with Maccoon sitting on a hedgehog (of which he will never forget). Their banter and chemistry makes for a very entertaining read.
Alexia is soulless and makes for the most unique character that I have ever read. Her soulless state (which is not well know) and her "exotic" Italian look (which she is reminded of constantly) has made her life very uneventful. The correct term for her is preternatural and she is the antidote to supernatural. When she comes into contact with a supernatural they become human. Her true aspirations is to work for the Bureau of Unnatural Registry (BUR) which is a division of her majesty's Civil Service. But first she must solve why strange roves are appearing and the roves that were already around are going missing.
Maccoon finds Alexia annoying but is always looking forward to when the next time he gets to face off against her. He has never meet such a formidable woman and is turned on by the way she stands up against him. His Beta, Professor Lyall, already sees where this is heading. He has been Beta to a few Alphas and knows the classic signs.
Lord Akeldama is a hoot! He is a very outrageous rove vampire who acts dumb but actually is very smart and is Alexia's source of a lot of her information. He is also a very old vampire and he is about to be targeted by the same group that is behind the missing roves. And of course, Alexia is smack dab in the middle of it!
So many interesting characters. I was laughing so hard sometimes reading the dialogue between Alexia and Maccoon. Can't wait to see what the next adventure is for Alexia!
Sometimes I thought I was reading a great Amanda Quick novel (i.e., prior to her last few novels of paranormal) but then in pops werewolf and soulless!! What a mind bender!! Loved the book and the quirkiness. Gail magically entwines Victorian life, humor and werewolves. Great new author!!
What can I say that others haven't said? Not much - other than this is more paranormal romance than steampunk.
It is set in Victorian London, and the author spends an EXCRUCIATINGLY long time describing the fashions, but not nearly enough details on, say... weapons, science and gadgetry. (I would much rather hear about how the metal recording cylinders work than yet another description of the heroine's decorative buttons on her gloves.)
I will compliment her on the depth of etiquette she seems to possess, though the heroine tromps on it most thoroughly without any real consequence... which is half the humor in this book.
It is an amusing read, the romance being a classic comedy of errors. I did enjoy it, though I would have preferred if things such as the 'hedgehog incident' were explained, or at least the bit about the octopuses. But I guess that goes with world-building, and trilogy building as well.
I am a HUGE fan of well-executed Austenian wit and satisfying paranormal romancesâin fact, I go almost positively fangirl over those aspectsâbut I've always been wary of a blend of the two. Luckily, first-time novelist Gail Carriger has completely succeeded in this ambitious endeavor. SOULLESS is a brilliant and witty steampunk paranormal romance mystery, and one that I'll be raving about for weeks to comeâindeed, if I can ever stop raving about it.
The wry tone of narration in SOULLESS, combined with its engaging characters, makes for an utterly delightful read. For sure, it is most likely not the first time in the history of the English language that an ornery and independent spinster is a main character, but Alexia Tarabotti goes above and beyond the type. Her preternatural âabilitiesâ seem to perfectly complement her personality, unusual for the Victorian age.
Supporting characters, too, are a blast to read about. It doesn't hurt that Lord Maccon is sexy and adorably gruff. Alexia and Lord Maccon's chemistry is undeniably good, but it also doesn't direct the course of the novel, which I appreciated. The paranormal/mystery element of the plot is a little rough sometimes, but it certainly does not detract from one's enjoyment of reading this book.
Overall, SOULLESS is a cross-genre delight that will be adored by all different kinds of readers. Gail Carriger, you have a solid fan in me, and I will be looking forward impatiently to future books about Alexia and Lord Maccon!
"And what new gown will you be wearing, Mama?" Alexia asked sharply. "Something appropriate, or your customary style - a gown better suited to a lady half your age?"
"Alexia!" hissed Ivy.
Mrs. Loontwill turned flinty eyes on her eldest daughter, "Regardless of what I am wearing, it is clear you will not be there to see it!" With that, she swept from the room.
Felicity's eyes were dancing with merriment. "You are perfectly correct, of course. The gown she picked out is daringly low cut, frilly, and pale pink."
I love it. In the midst of all the supernatural problems surrounding Alexia (missing werewolves and vampires, her own repeated attempted abductions, and the political upheaval surrounding the supernatural races) there is always time for an argument concerning fashion and time to goad your crazy mother! Just such an amazing amalgamation of genres! You have urban fantasy, romance, steampunk, mystery, and comedy. Just amazing. You have to love it!
Alexia is a woman who is too modern for her time period in terms of her intelligence, yet at the same time is still stuck in real time period when it comes to sexuality. Also, she is never below using her sex to her advantage, whether it is to garner sympathy in an attempt to escape trouble or pretend to be dumber than she to have others underestimate her. All in all an interesting mix of modern ideas and Victorian ideals.
Conall could have been fleshed out a bit more but hopefully in the next book we will get to see more of his personality. In this book you see him as a strong (yet weak when it comes to Alexia), usually angry, somewhat ill-mannered (at least for Victorian times) smart man. He was obviously sexually interested in Alexia, but sometimes his other interests in her weren't as clear. You could tell that he cared for her but I wasn't always sure why.
The best characters though came in the forms of Professor Lyall and Floot the butler. Both were strong, quiet, smart, and fiercely loyal men. I can see their roles in the upcoming novels greatly increasing both in plot and importance.
The settings, fashions, and technology were all well described without being overwhelming. Just enough to intrigue you and keep you reading, while still remaining focused on the characters and plot.
All in all this was just a fantastic book that should be read by anyone who is into the urban fantasy, Victorian-era, or steampunk genres.
This book seems to cover several genres at once. Historical romance as it is set during the reign of Queen Victoria when womens fashion included a bustle and corset and leaving the house with the incorrect hat was an unforgivable social faux pas. And in Alexia Tarabottis case, carrying a parasol is a must as well. The romance depicts two characters, a spinster and an earl performing the mating ritual required by Victorian society. This book could also be viewed as a paranormal romance as the characters involved in the romance have a paranormal background. Our hero, Lord Maccon, is the leader of one of the local werewolf packs. Our heroine, Alexia Tarabotti, is a preternatural. She has the ability to reverse the abilities of a supernatural being simply by touching them. Werewolves revert back to human form and vampires become human and are able to go out in sunlight. The only catch is this only works as long as she maintains physical contact. Once the contact is broken, the supernatural being goes back to his former state. Finally, this book could be considered a cozy mystery as there is mystery and foul play afoot. Newly made vampires are appearing without any apparent connection to the vampire hive in London and other vampires, high ranking members of London society are disappearing and someone is also after Alexia as well.
Regardless of which genre you decide to label this book, you will find this story to be highly entertaining. The chemistry between Lord Maccon and Alexia is intense. Besides the sexual tension lying just below the surface, there is a history between them of earlier confrontations and conflict. They definitely get on each others nerves. As a spinster, Alexia is not the typical simpering female solely motivated to finding a husband, sipping tea and being brainless. Alexias mother and two sisters fill that role perfectly. Instead, Alexia questions everything around her and I found her inquisitive and independent nature refreshing.
Lord Maccon is the type of hero I always enjoy reading. He is very protective of what is his and he is very much the alpha male. Ironically, only an alpha female is suitable as his mate and when it is decided that Alexia will be his mate, he automatically assumes she will take on the nature of an alpha female werewolf. Not being a werewolf, she has no idea what he expects and the results were quite entertaining. A Scottish werewolfwhats not to love? If you need further encouragement, there is an extended scene when Alexia has to revert him back to human form while he is a werewolf. It was a little scary but in the end having to keep her arms wrapped around a very naked Lord Maccon was quite enjoyable, at least for the reader and I didnt hear Alexia or Lord Maccon complaining about it either.
The author brings a story laden with humor filled with characters that I enjoyed meeting and found refreshing. I loved the story, the characters, including the brief appearance of Queen Victoria and some of the supporting characters like Lord Akeldama, Ivy and Professor Lyall. The only thing missing to make this experience perfect is having my copy of the next story, Changeless on hand.
I wasnt sure how I would feel about this book having never read a steampunk novel and not being overly fond of comedy of manners type books unless theyre exceptionally witty. Turns out I was hooked immediately by the authors wicked sarcasm. Most authors try too hard to get the right mix of funny/witty/sarcastic and end up making their characters sound dumb but here it felt fresh and natural and was so unlike most of the bland and/or annoying stuff lining my shelves.
The book starts out with our spinster heroine, Alexia Tarabotti, taking out a rude vampire with her hair pin/stake. Then the arrogant Lord Maccon, a gorgeous werewolf, enters the scene and insists on questioning her about the vamps demise. Damn, all she wanted to do was to hide out in the library, drink some tea and eat a treacle tart in peace. I can relate. Now the treacle tart has been flattened by the obnoxious vampire and the tea has been spilled to and fro during the slaying and shes being accused of murdering the ill mannered vampire by the ill mannered werewolf.
In this Victorian set world, humans intermingle with vampires, werewolves and the rare soulless humans who can negate the supernatural creatures powers by touching them. Alexia is one of the soulless. She is confident and funny but doesnt have the soft pretty looks that attract males but for some reason Lord Maccon, in all his sexy glory, cant seem to keep his paws off her. The two become embroiled in a mystery of sorts and its a thoroughly entertaining journey.
This is fun book that is more humor than horror but I enjoyed it all the same. Alexia is a strong willed character who never strays into annoying or unlikable heroine territory and is a proper lady which makes many of the scenes all the more humorous. Her wit won me over from the beginning. The steam punk aspects were new to me but added a fresh otherworldyness to the whole werewolf/vampire thing that has been overdone of late. Lord Maccon with his sexy brogue and messy appearance and the strong cast of secondary characters (excepting the Alexia's direct family which were overdone stereotypes - ugh, disappointing) were brought to vivid life and werent there just to prop up the heroine.
Despite all of those good things this book wasnt a quick read for me and its hard to pinpoint the reason. I think the old fashioned speak slowed me down. Words such as incommodious stopped me in my tracks and there were a bit too many adjectives everywhere. I loved the characters and the originality so Ill definitely pick up the next one soon.
After reading Carrigers Finishing School series, I thought I would give the adult series set in the same world a try. I am so happy I did.
One of my favorite aspects of Carrigers books continues to be her unique and quirky characters. Alexia is spunky and outspoken, unwilling to let societal norms dictate how she should live her life. The supporting characters are also very well developed. I love Lord Akeldamas flair and his interactions with his drone Biffy.
I liked that the romance between Alexia and Lord Maccon develops over time, and while it is a very large focus of the story, it does not completely derail the entire plot. The mystery component of the story is equally strong, although I do wish the villains were slightly more complex and more frightening.
As with the Finishing School series, the world building in Soulless was fantastic. The mythology and science associated with the supernatural members of society is fascinating and thoroughly explained. I enjoyed the way Carriger tied the mythology back to historical events, giving an alternate account filled with paranormal and steampunk goodness.
The number of genres mashed up into this tiny story is impressive, yet nothing felt forced and the plot was never congested with unnecessary details. There truly is something for everyone in this book.
Overall I really enjoyed this, and I am so excited to continue reading the series. I hope the characters and world building continue to be the focus, as they are definitely Carrigers specialty.
My first foray into steampunk. Honestly,it was ok. I wasnt prepared for the 'love' story. First half of the book I found to be a bit slow. Second half, the story started to cruise. I was satisfied how it ended. I am on the fence about reading the second installment.
This book was not only well written, with a good plot, very interesting characters, even secondary characters, but it was hilarious, too. The world was very well created and carried through. I really liked this book. So much so, that Im currently reading the second book to the series. Its slightly Steampunk, but not as much as some others you might see out there. Its partly a romance, but mostly shows the main mystery. But I also liked that although there were some steamy scenes, it wasnt anything like a bodice ripper.
I found this book to be completely delightful and wholly deserving of the high praise and many recommendations that lead me to read it in the first place. If I were grading on personal enjoyment alone I would give it five stars, but I try to be a bit more critical than that. So, on to my review.
Plot Summery! (SPOILERS): This is the story of Alexia Tarabotti, a spinster half-Italian Englishwoman and person lacking a soul. Her soulless state renders her capable of canceling out the supernatural powers of vampires and werewolves. Together with her inquisitive nature and incurable stubbornness, this often gets her into a great deal of unladylike trouble. For example, they lead to a series of encounters with Lord Maccon, the local werewolf alpha. Lord Maccon is investigating a series of mysterious vampire appearances and disappearances, which poor Alexia keeps getting mixed up in. He also takes an intense personal interest in Alexia.
Now, I found this book listed under fantasy and seem to always find the series in the fantasy section. However, I think it would appeal equally (if not more so) to romance fans. A decent amount of time is spent on the budding relationship between Alexia and Lord Maccon. Their banter is quite amusing. The actual fantasy bits have a steampunk feel--a lot of wacky yet menacing science. So I feel this book would appeal to a fairly diverse audience.
Alexia is a wonderful character. She's intelligent and forcefully independent, is blunt and honest in her mannerisms, and carries a weighted brass parasol as both weapon and accessory. Essentially she's a loveable miss-fit. Lord Maccon is equally appealing but a bit less well developed. He is similar to many alpha wolf characters that I've encountered in my reading expeditions--commanding, willful, loyal, and of course very attracted to our heroine. The secondary characters were also amusing and very appealing. Those that stand out most to me are Ivy Hisselpenny of the horrible hats, Lord Akeldama the gay vampire, and Professor Lyall the pack beta. All distinct, memorable, and likeable.
As for the plot, it has it's flaws. It flows all right, but gets a bit slow at times and relies pretty heavily on coincidence to progress forward. Alexia doesn't precisely save the day, but she is present for all of the action and helps a great deal. I've grown used to the alpha females of urban fantasy who run in guns blazing and fix everything themselves, and this wasn't like that at all. But at least she's not helpless. Furthermore, I found the ending satisfactory, is just a touch sugary sweet. There is also a notable amount of sequel baiting including the unexplained mystery of the brass octopuses.
As I mentioned, this was a five star book for personal enjoyment. It would be a four star book after honestly evaluating it's flaws. So I'll split the difference and give it a 4.5.
This book was too funny. I loved the story line. It was just so unique from everything else out there. It also had a sense of humor that was unlike anything else I have been reading lately. Such a breath of fresh air. Gail Carriger is like my new favorite author right now. I totally run out to buy her stuff on release day. Its just that good and unique.
I liked the author's take on the idea that persons with an abundance of "soul" can be turned into vampires and other supernatural creatures. Those who do not have enough soul would not survive the attempt to change. This naturally tends to limit the number of vampires in existence, especially no one knows beforehand whether or not an individual will survive the change. Given the existence of persons with an abundance of "soul", this automatically opens the door for the possibility of the opposite spectrum - the existence of persons with virtually no soul. This is the premise of the book with the main character being a "Soulless". Persons who are soulless automatically cancel out the supernatural nature of any being (vampire / werewolf) with whom they are in physical contact. This means that a soulless will turn a vampire or werewolf fully human as long as they are in physical contact. ... This leads to some fairly interesting interactions.
As for the plot, it was interesting enough to keep me reading. This book is set in a Victorian England where England, unlike most of the world, has accepted vampires and werewolves as a part of society and accorded them basic citizens rights. Werewolves are locked up on the full moon for the safety of the public. There is a romantic interest between our protagonist Alexia and the local alpha werewolf. My problem was that overall the romance was kind of silly. I prefer people who at least have an idea of their own mind and whether or not they actually like someone. This was intended to be a tongue in cheek supernatural romantic comedy and succeeds to a large extent. It's just not quite my cup of tea. However, if you like plucky parasol wielding Victorian ladies who defy the norms of society and invariably get into and out of all kinds of trouble between tea time and breakfast... It may be for you.
I was absolutely amazed at this book. I've had it for awhile and just couldn't force myself to pick it up. Now I'm upset that it took me so long. What a fabulous story!
Lord Maccon is a hot sexy alpha werewolf. Alexia Tarabotti is an English spinster of a decidedly different caliber than your average simpering female. Oh and she is soulless which enables her to neutralize supernatural abilities. I was hooked from the first chapter when Alexia accidentally killed a vampire with a combination of a hair pin and a gaudy brass parasol. Enter Lord Maccon, head of the BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry) investigating what happened to this unregistered vampire and where exactly he came from. Lord Maccon and Alexia obviously had previous encounters because the animosity was instant yet humorous. Lord Maccon caused Alexia to have illicit primal monkey thoughts. (hmmm wonder what that means...)
I liked the way vampire society was likened to a bee hive with a queen and drones. The supernaturals are out in society but they are very few in numbers since new members haven't been created in years. An interesting approach. I loved the conversations between Alexia and her BFF Ivy. They had a decidedly male flavor of insulting each other but with a humorous twist. Again not typical of society females who usually are lacking in a sense of humor. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised at this debut novel and can't wait to get my hands on [book:Changeless|6933876].
I didn't like this as much as I thought I would. The writing style was a bit formal. The author would switch back and forth when talking about Alexia. It was distracting and annoying. Pick one and stick with it! The following examples are just from pages 1 and 2:
"Miss Tarabotti was not..."
"For Miss Alexia had..."
"...he touched Miss Tarabotti..."
"Miss Tarabotti had never..."
"He reared away from Alexia..."
"So Alexia, who..."
"Miss Tarabotti was most..."
Now, in every romance/fantasy/mystery (etc) book, no matter the genre, the heroine does stick out in some way or ways. I get that. I didn't need to be constantly reminded of the heroine's uniqueness. Yes, I remember from the first time I read it that Alexia is part Italian, has olive skin, prominent nose, and nice sized breasts. I. Get. It. Promise!
I did, mostly, enjoy the story. I'm on the fence whether or not I will continue with book 2. All in all, not bad, but not awesome.
Picked up this book because a good friend of mine, and avid reader suggested it, and I'm glad i did. The book is fast paced and entertaining. The dialog is witty and each character is well written. The banter btwn Alexia and Connell is entertaining. My fav though is Lord Akeldama (sp?), I do hope he makes more apperances in future books.
I like this book because i encompass many different genres ~ romance, mystery, action and some history is thrown in there as well.
I'm not sure how well the author does with the in's and out's of the time period, since i am not a student of the era, but I think that it shows how much everyone ~ regardless of position ~ had to play their role based on societies rules at the time.
3)Blameless (not out yet)
Historical/ Paranormal/ Steampunk? Romance by Gail Carriger. Alexia is a 26 year old spinster, in an alternate Victorian England. She is part Italian, intelligent, no classic beauty, and "soulless." Her soulless state nullifies the skills of paranormals: weres, vampires, ghosts. She has an ongoing personality conflict with the local Alpha, Lord Maccon who also serves as the Head of the local investigator of paranormal abnormalities. Lord Maccon doesn't mind that Alexia is a spinster, or that she's no classic beauty. He loves her intelligence, quick wit, and her curves! I've read lots of paranormals, but this one is an original, just like Alexia. Our Heroine finds herself in the middle of an investigation, much to Lord Maccon's dismay. Love Alexia, Connall, and their whole crew. Fun book, and worth a credit.
Charming series of romantic interludes and tragicomic family drama laced with a sub-plot involving vampires, werewolves, and evil scientists with nefarious ends in mind. Amusing and well-written. The preternatural concept strikes me as original, though I'm just getting started with the newer sci-fi/fantasy/horror coming out nowadays.
I made the mistake of judging this book by its truly awesome cover (both the design on the front and the writing on the back) and was sorely disappointed by what I found inside. One reviewer couldn't stop smiling while reading "Soulless", but I couldn't stop rolling my eyes. The book is like a suitor who lacks personality but is trying much too hard to win your fancy: the harder this book tries, the more annoying it gets (and the easier it becomes to see how much substance it lacks). Despite Carriger's attempt to dress it up with a Victorian London setting and a poor attempt at steampunk (really, I don't think it gets to be called steampunk if all it has is a couple of zeppelins, a brass parasol, and some techno-modified opera glasses), the underpinnings of this book smack of "Twilight"- and not in a good way. I have no problem with a supernatural element to a novel, but I have little tolerance for confining oneself to the tired vampire vs. werewolf antagonism with few new twists (although I did appreciate Carriger's integration of supernaturals in government structure) or other supernatural beings. Like "Twilight", the romance is predictable and there is little to no development of the one-dimensional characters. Carriger does not seem to be an adherent of the old writing adage "Show, don't tell," nor does she seem able to keep her characters (particularly her protagonist, Alexia) from straying to quite out-of-period actions and thoughts- even Carriger's "Victorian" prose itself often rings false. Alexia apparently lacks a soul (though it's difficult to ever find evidence of this aside from the times the author explains it to us point-blank), but she at least has some spirit- the one quality that makes her a more redeeming and satisfying protagonist than Bella Swan of "Twilight". As an avid fan of both classic Victorian literature and steampunk subculture, I was very disappointed with this book and, after forcing myself through a few hundred pages, remembered that I had better books to read and gave up on this one (which almost never happens).
If you're a frequent reader of romances or cozy mysteries, then you'll probably know what to expect from this book, and if the plot sounds like your cup of tea, then this might actually be a real treat. But if you're more interested in actual Victorian literature and its attention to developing complex themes and characters, I'd suggest keeping your hands off this book, lest you throw it at a wall in frustration as I nearly did.