Saturday, February 12, 2011

Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless - Gail Carriger Author: Gail Carriger {site | twitter | amazon | facebook}
Genre: Steampunk, Historical, Romance, Supernatural
Format: Kindle (.mobi)
Publisher: Orbit/Hachette Book Group
Published: October 2009

Disclosure: Purchased

Synopsis: {via amazon}

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 a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.


Above all, this book is absolutely hilarious!  Alexia Tarabotti is a half-Italian spinster with no prospects, and no soul, but she's more than willing to accept both circumstances with, if not cheer, grace. I knew when I purchased the book that it was reputedly funny, but I didn't expect this level of quirk. I've honestly never read anything quite like it, which is, I suspect, why Gail Carriger's books are so popular. Her style is unique and easy to follow, her characters develop at a natural pace as the story unfolds, and no ends are left loose.  They mystery, one that Alexia is not all together unprepared to solve, and which she certainly does not solve alone, is fun and unpredictable.

Soulless is a steampunk, historical romance, heavily invested in the supernatural. All of the primary characters are supernaturals, or preternatural, of some sort with very few exceptions. Supernaturals include a hearty mix of vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and, of course, the soulless.  While the novel is very funny, the level of quirky comedy interferes with the other plot elements, making it hard to immerse in every aspect of the plot. I find it a tad difficult to go from laughing out loud to being touched by romantic moments, the gears just don't shift that swiftly, especially when the romance is infused with comedy.  I suspect, however, that this is intentional on the part of Ms. Carriger, so the novel's not taken too seriously at any point. Even when the characters are in danger, they're quite amusing, especially amusing is Alexia's insistence on manners at the strangest moments.

The one thing I was a bit put off by was the fact that in the story/setting there are less female supernaturals/preternatural than there are male because women have less soul than men -- content of soul affects the ability to survive the metamorphosis. As the novel was written by a woman, I'm not precisely offended by it, but it didn't slip my notice. It could be that Carriger is making a comedic statement about the male/female dynamic, or it could just be the case that I'm over-thinking it entirely!  Either way, this one small thing was certainly not enough to keep me from loving the book, nor from buying the next book in the series!

I highly recommend Gail Carriger's Soulless to readers who enjoy historical romance, steampunk, and the supernatural. While the novel borders on chick lit, I feel like men could enjoy it just the same!  Tiny little warning, this novel does include adult content, and though said adult content is fairly subdued, this book is probably not for children.


Available formats: {paperback | kindle | nookbook}

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