Friday, October 21, 2011

Book #2 Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless is set in an alternate history version of Victorian England where werewolves and vampires are accepted as functioning members of society. Alexia Tarabotti is a woman with several critical problems: at the scandalous age of 26 she is still searching for a husband, that her late father was Italian complicates her social standing in a rigid class system, and she has no soul. The fact that she is "soulless" leaves her unaffected by the powers of supernatural beings which only further complicates her life when she accidentally kills a vampire that had attacked her. Queen Victoria sends an investigator,the brash Lord Maccon, who is himself the alpha werewolf. As disappearances in the vampire population of London's high society increase, Alexia and Lord Maccon work to solve the mystery. Alexa detests him upon meeting and struggles to maintain proper decorum and a delicate social balance while attempting to understand some new and aggrivating stirrings that appear whenever a certain Lord is present.

Publishers Weekly called this debut novel brilliant “with a blend of Victorian romance, screwball comedy of manners and alternate history.” It was the combination of the words screwball and Victorian that captured my interest. This was my first steampunk novel, paranormal or otherwise.

Alexia Tarabotti is an independent, stubborn 26-year-old who is considered to be unmarriable, and socially hindered due her late father’s Italian heritage and her large nose and darker Italian complexion. While the Victorian era characters may not appreciate her, I thoroughly enjoyed Alexia’s ability and insistence at embracing her non-conformist status. She is different from her superficial social status-addicted sisters and while made to feel the outsider in most social situations, thrives in being a learned, inquisitive, strong-minded woman.

Carringer describes this version of Victorian England and its players quite well. I was able to easily fall into this world where fasionista vampires and werewolves who fight to be comfortable in their civilized personas co-exist with normals. The world of steampunk was well introduced to me in the pages of Soulless and the sheer delight of the verbal sparring between the main characters has me looking for the sequels.

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