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Book Review: Soulless – Gail Carriger January 6, 2010

Posted by Realitybypass in Book Debut, Book Review, Book Series, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy.

It’s funny to me to live in Utah where the winters are routinely below zero.  I’ve been listening to people complain that it’s going to drop to zero in their home town or there might be snow and I respond with a typical intermountain west ‘meh.’  Snow and freezing temps are just part and parcel.  For everyone else I suggest extra socks, walk like a duck, and let your pipes drip just a little so they won’t explode.

Moving on to other things.  Today’s book review is focused on Soulless by Gail Carriger.  I picked this one up from the library after reading a lot of very positive reviews.  Then I accidentally dropped it behind my bed and forgot I’d checked it out until the library started sending me ‘return our book’ emails.  Despite acquiring a nearly five dollar fine (I should have just bought the book in the first place since between getting a copy and the fine I’ve nearly paid for it twice) I held onto the book and got it read.  I’m glad I did.

Soulless is a Victorian age Urban Fantasy crossed with some Steampunk.  My library shelved it in Horror, so I suppose there’s some of that in there too.  The Soulless are a type of prenatural as compared to the supernatural creatures who are seen has having an abundance of soul which is why the super powers kick in.  Alexia Tarabotti is a soulless who has the problems of being Italian blooded, big nosed, swarthy, unmanagable and old…like all of 25.  Her mother, step father and step sisters despair of ever getting Alexia properly married off and she seems to have accepted her social demise with at least some measure of grace.  I loved Alexia as our heroine.  Much of the trouble she gets into honestly isn’t her fault, and when it is she knows it and fesses up.  She’s a great balance of a proper lady and someone playing on the fringes of acceptable society and the combination was charming.  This charming aspect is reflected in the language of the book and the way she reflects on things such as a badly tied cravat on a vampire trying to eat her.

In this London the supernatural have come out of the closet, so to speak, and are an accepted part of society.  They have ruling classes within their own groups and both the werewolves and the vampires have specific attaches to the queen in order to keep everything in balance.  In particular we are introduced to Lord Conall Maccon, the Alpha werewolf who just can’t keep his eyes or his hands off the troublesome Miss Tarabotti, and Lord Akeldama, the vampire dandy who is one of Alexia’s best friends.

Plotwise the book holds together fairly well.  I saw some of what was coming early on, but it was done in such a way that I remained both amused and willing to go along with it.  I love the dichotomy of the scientific versus the spiritual and man versus supernatural.  It was also nice to seem someone using a proper mythological golem and it went well with the book.  As vampires and werewolves began disappearing and Alexia got drawn further and further in Carriger did a good job at balancing the pacing between drama, romance and action.  There were points that were maybe a big heavy on the romance for everything else that was going on, and the book ends on a rather sexy note, but it sets up really well for the next book.  I’d expand on that, but it’d be spoilerific, so ask in the comments if you want to know.  🙂

I’ll definitely keep reading this series.  Over the top, sure.  Charming, absolutely…and it left me craving treacle tart!

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Horror/Victorian Steampunk

Age: 15+

Content:  Some violence, sexual content and destruction of a perfectly good treacle tart!

Overall: 4.5 paws