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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Review: Soulless, Gail Carriger

I don't normally do this, as I like to write my own book description, but the jacket says it perfectly, so:

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.

Briefly: Read it. Soulless is exactly what I wanted and didn’t get from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It’s a pithy, funny, tongue-firmly-in-cheek mesh of Victorian manners and morés, and absurd occult occurrences. Alexia Tarabotti is an intriguing and amusing MC, completely un-Victorian and yet somehow not out of place. Carriger’s take on Victorian London high society shows a real knowledge of it, while not taking it too seriously. And, man, talk about cover appeal! Love it!
Highly recommended if you like historical, paranormal, satirical, and/or sexy-silly fiction.

Not-so-briefly: let's get down to business --
Characters: The characters of Soulless, including many of the secondary ones, are vibrant and fleshed out. The main characters are engaging and charmingly flawed. The two main characters, Alexia and Lord Maccon, are irresistible. Seriously. Just try to resist them; I'll wait.
Alexia is sassy and smart, with a strain of Victorian sensibilities that is unfettered by any sort of wallflower-ness. She is not shy or coy or retiring. She is a feisty heroine with modern inclinations, who just happens to expect to be treated like a Victorian lady, smart spinster, some-time sex object, and fan of treacle tart; she doesn't ask much. She's a perfect little bundle of contradictions.
Lord Maccon is every bit the Alpha werewolf, posing as a highly desirable bachelor Lord. He is constantly on the verge of bursting out and doing something deliciously indecorous. The fireworks between Lord Maccon and Alexia are blinding (and plenty exciting -- and loud, as fireworks tend to be). It's a classic love/hate relationship with the added fun of Victorian etiquette and supernatural elements tossed in.

Setting and Plot: The steampunky goodness of Carriger's Victorian England is almost as much a character as Alexia and Lord Maccon. Carriger did her research, and a London slightly different than we may have expected comes to life on the page. The Victorian obsession with the fledgling field of genetics plays a prominent and brilliant role, and the exploding obsession with science in both the working and moneyed classes makes for a suitable, smart and intriguing background to the story. Carriger's idea that these great advancements (logically) are the result of supernaturals is fun and playful, while making perfect sense. There's good conflict, great tension (plot tension and sexual tension *waggles eyebrows*). All said, she has set up a great stage-set to play on for the remainder of the series. Long may it live.

*This review counts as part of the Bottoms Up Reading Challenge on Ellz Readz.
*This review is part of the Blog with Bite Soulless push; read more great reviews (<-- see that? I just called my review great, but I did it sneaky-like...) of Soulless on the BWB website.


  1. I have heard so many good things about this book. Great review, I am glad you go what you wanted out of it. It is on my wishlist.

  2. I keep getting drawn in by the cover on this book - reminds me of a dark Mary Poppins with the umbrella and hat.

    I can't remember if I put this on the 'to read' list or not... wandering off to check...

  3. Great review. I read this book last week and really enjoyed it, as well.

  4. Love the review. I'm still working on getting my hands on a copy of this.

  5. I have this waiting on my shelf and can't wait to read it! Glad to see a great review of it.

  6. Vanessa, Book Depository has it for $4, FREE SHIPPING!!!

  7. I've just reposted my review for Blog with Bite too. SUCH a good book!

  8. Great review, Misty! I've heard great things about this book, but it's never really appealed to me - not being a historical fan and all. But after reading your review, I might give it a try! It sounds pretty fun!

  9. Wonderful review I bought this a week or so ago have not read it yet

  10. This is the first I've heard of it. Your review makes me want to go out and read it. Now! I liked your insight into the MC being un-victorian but not out of place.

  11. Steampunky goodness indeed! This book was great, the characters were great and the exploration of the Victorian age was even better. Thanks for an excellent review. ♥ Parajunkee

  12. Glad to hear you liked this! The library only has two copies, so I'm waiting veeeery anxiously to finally read it myself! After seeing that you liked it, I might just have to go out and buy it myself!

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  14. This was on my list but it's just been moved up to be read within the next couple weeks.

    On top of that, this review triggered a three hour session of my study of the history of England which began during Jane-in-June. Seems you're influencing a huge part of my free time these days.

    btw, I'm loving tS@tBotπ.

  15. Loved it! Highly recommend it, especially if you love steampunk, paranormal, magic and mystery adventure.


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