Just finished reading Heartless by Gail Carriger. I do love this series as it’s just so original, tongue in cheek and witty.
In a nutshell the fourth book starts with Alexia trying to outwit the vampires who are trying to kill her and, following a tip from a ghost, attempting to uncover a plot to kill the Queen which involves delving into her husband’s past. Okay, that’s a very small nutshell but I don’t want to give too much away!!
In this edition Alexia is heavily pregnant with the ‘infant inconvenience’ and waddling around the place trying to uncover potential assassination attempts. I did wonder what this novel would be like with Alexia being 8 months into her pregnancy but there was no need for concern, Alexia remains true to form, witty, stubborn and hungry. Lord Akeldama plays a much larger part in this edition which is most welcome. I love his little endearments and turn of phrase ‘oh la’, not to mention the descriptions of his ever more outrageous wardrobe. Ivy and her hats make a return and come in particularly handy in this edition and I loved the forming of the ‘Parasol Protectorate’ with the pledge and code names – Puff Bonnet and the Ruffled Parasol. Alexia’s troublesome sister Felicity also plays a role – and frankly I was quite cross with her. Similarly I thought Madame Lefoux’s actions left a little bit to be desired – although I guess she had provocation.
Now, this instalment definitely has a different feel to the last one. There is a plot but this has to take into account Alexia’s condition and accordingly this story has a much more ‘homely’ feel to it. The ending is quite fast paced but the first two thirds of the book enjoy a more detective orientated feel. And the ending, lots of twists and turns and people moving from A to B and from C to A – and what on earth does the actual finish signify (I may have mentioned that patience is not my most endearing feature and how long do I now have to wait to find out what on earth is actually going on??? For goodness sake!!
Anyway, the writing is consistently brilliant, intriguing and inventive. We have the usual inspired creations – zombie porcupines putting in an appearance and where else are you going to be able to read a story where the word ‘folderol’ is used? Or, ‘oh bully’. I love it. Not to mention sexy scottish werewolf – Lord Maccon. I rest my case.
Would I recommend this novel? Certainly. Give yourself a break, a nice cup of tea and a light hearted romp through an alternative Victorian London.
Before I begin to review this book I have to say I loved it! It really is an insane mix up. There’s history, romance, comedy, paranormal activity and apparently something called steam punk (I must say I was inclined to like it already with that description alone!)
Soulless brings to us a new heroine in the figure of Alexia Tarabotti and a rather delicious piece of eye candy in the form of Lord Maccon. The story is set in Victorian England but it isn’t the Victorian England we know – this is an alternate England where werewolves, vampires and ghosts are accepted and where weird and wonderful contraptions are as common as bonnets and bustles! Alexia is the eldest daughter in a rather well to do family. She is however, at the age of 26, doomed to be a spinster. Not only is Alexia half Italian (how shocking!), rather well endowed in an otherwise world of petite women, outspoken (when females with brains were not particularly valued) but she also lacks a soul. She is in fact a preternatural and the very opposite of the supernaturals – and her uncanny soullessness means that any supernatural she comes into physical contact with is immediately rendered powerless (for the duration of the contact that is). Fortunately not many people are aware of Alexia’s ability until, that is, she unwittingly kills a vampire whilst attending a social gathering. The plot then unfolds from this point with the involvement of Lord Maccon sent to investigate and the discovery that vampires and werewolves are disappearing and somebody or something is intent on abducting Alexia.
I won’t go on too much about the plot. I don’t want to spoil anything and also, to be honest, I wouldn’t say the plot is particularly deep or meaningful. So, if you’re looking for some hidden or profound message you’ll probably be disappointed.
What I particularly enjoyed about this book was the humour and the fact that it is packed full of quotable quotes! I would love to remember some of the lines but I know I’m going to forget them! Plus it made me laugh out loud (on the bus – which drew some strange looks!) I think Alexia is great. She’s outspoken, well read (yay), has a healthy appetite (which I must applaud – no lettuce leaves thank you), loves a bit of adventure and isn’t afraid to be in a tight spot (no swooning or smelling salts).
I also really enjoyed that the romantic interest was a werewolf – I do like vampire stories – but this made a nice refreshing change. And, let’s face it Lord Maccon is a bit gorgeous (woof). I will say at this point that this novel can be a little bit more explicit than some YA books – so bear that in mind!
The other great part of this book are the other characters. Alexia’s family are like something out of Pride and Prejudice – her mother IS Mrs Bennett. Her sisters live to shop and buy dresses and accessories and attend balls in search of a match. The butler is this wonderful, calm, all knowing, typical British butler who seems to appear when most needed, Miss Hiselpenny is Alexia’s unco-ordinated best friend and the fantastically foppish Lord Akeldama is her eccentric vampire friend. What more could you ask for really??
To be honest I don’t know a great deal about steam punk so I don’t know just how ‘punkish’ this novel is (although it definitely delivers a bit of steam!) so couldn’t say whether people who like that genre will be disappointed or not. But, I read this book with absolutely no pre-conceptions and thought it was a brilliant read. Witty and clever. Pride and Prejudice meets Trueblood (not sure if that’s exactly what I’m thinking – it’s just so very proper and yet at the same time so very not). And the beauty of coming to this series so late in the day is I can now proceed to read books two and three without an extended wait!
Criticisms: don’t really have any – not overly fond of the covers but it’s what’s in between them that really counts and frankly you could bind this in crinkled brown paper and it would still be a highly entertaining read.