Soulless Review

Author: Gail Carriger Publishing Date: October 1st, 2009 Series: Parasol Protectorate  Genre: fantasy, paranormal, romance, science ...

Author: Gail Carriger
Publishing Date: October 1st, 2009
Series: Parasol Protectorate 
Genre: fantasy, paranormal, romance, science fiction

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?

Ace started reading this series over the summer, and highly recommended it to SJ. So after weeks of being on the library wait list, SJ finally received the book and dove in. It was magnificent. SJ and Ace couldn't decide who would get to review this glorious story, so they decided to team up. For the first time ever, A Tree Grows in Brookland presents a dual review.

Rating: 5/5
Sorry folks, but this is about to get super wordy. Although, if you like romance, wit, sarcasm, British and Victorian things, and mystery then you just might enjoy the heck out of this. Read on!

The writing style is one of the things I love most about this book. When I was trying to decide between reading this and another book, I read the first page of each. The style of Soulless immediately caught my interest in a very intense way. It was so whimsical and just so different from anything you normally see. I feel like one of the reasons I generally stay away from modern books is because nobody tries with their writing style anymore. They do nothing to set themselves apart. They try too hard with their plot and end up severely lacking in style. Soulless is not one of those. The dialogue alone is many things. Hilarious, engaging, beautifully crafted. The Victorian elements in their speech and in the writing in general really spices it up and gives it that something special that makes you just fly through the book. And it isn't hard to understand, either. Even someone who knows absolutely nothing of Victorian speech can understand what's going on and fully appreciate all the aspects that make the book so wonderful.

I'm mostly going to add to what Ace says throughout the review. She sums everything up so perfectly. But in my own words, I think that the book was hilarious. It had me laughing out loud. The story is told in third person omniscient (my personal favorite) and, as Ace mentioned, it was an easy and quick read. The dialogue reminded me of something out of a Jane Austen novel, so witty and proper. My favorite quote from this book is "to put the pudding in the puff." I'm going to add that to my vernacular. While I do love the story, I think it's only fair to mention a few of the nitpicky things I didn't care for. One being the fact that "swallow back bile" was a phrase uttered three separate times. Please. I do not want to dwell on your bile. Also, for me, I felt the plot was a bit too predictable. It was a delightful read, but don't read it expecting a great mystery. Gail Carriger herself says this of the books, "I think of my stories as character driven dramas with lots comedy. I suspect chronic mystery readers can figure out 'who done it' easily. I don't consider the mystery the goal. For me the goal is following my main character figure things out, and how much trouble she gets into as she does so."

If the style wasn't enough, the plot really did it. It goes at the perfect speed for the first book in a series. It's slow enough that you have time to process everything but not too slow that you get bored. And trust me, there is plenty to process with all of the supernatural creatures and their different characteristics and internal politics. Not to mention all the character names and relations and whatnot. Had Carriger tried to make it more exciting and mysterious, I feel it would have been a tad distracting and very confusing. There is far more than enough action and plot twists in the rest of the series to make up for any lack thereof in Soulless. And besides, even with not that much going on, it was still gripping and hard to out down. I appreciate the time and effort Carriger put into the introductions of each character and the development of them.

I agree wholeheartedly with Ace. However, I wanted more dancing. It's set in the Victorian time period. People still did organized dancing. There was romance, and I wanted the characters to get their twinkle toes on and boogy in the moonlight to some violin music (God I sound like a spoiled child).

Carriger tends to develop characters at a rate relative to their age-with the immortals you get little tidbits of information over periods of time, and they slowly start to unfold before you. You start out with a character that you quickly learn to love as you see heir personality, then as you gradually learn more about them you can come to appreciate them more, or even change your opinion. However, I feel that even with the characters that you simply cannot like, you also cannot hate them, because evil or not, they're just simply so well written. And trust me, there are plenty of nasty characters. Alexia Tarabotti's family is just awful. I can't understand how she never fought back, being the type to wack strangers willy-nilly with a parasol. Alexia herself is just fantastic. She can be frustrating sometimes, but she's lovely, intelligent, witty, sweet, and full of surprises. You never know what she's going to do, and right when you think you've got her pinned down, she'll do something that completely shocks you. Then there's Lord Maccon, who does one even describe him? Incredibly Scottish. Of course you have to love the side characters, too. They're all so lovely and each one is incredibly important in their own way.

LORD MACCON IS A BEAST. No literally. He's a beast. But also in the swoon worthy sense. He is a large well dressed gruff man with a Scottish accent. He is exactly my type. And Alexia is just hilarious. In the beginning of the book a vampire attacks her. He goes to bite her and instead of being frightened, she acts as if the vampire is making advances on her. She acts insulted! She is so delightfully proper and sassy and enjoys eating food all the time any time.

Her sisters, Felicity and Evylin, however are the unfortunate byproduct of Alexia's mom's second marriage. They are just silly and awfully vain. Ivy Hisselpenny, Alexia's best friend, has silly hats and an atrocious sense of fashion. Mrs. Loontwill, Alexia's mother, is a straight up bitch. Just look at this excerpt!

Mrs. Loontwill had not even bothered with the expenditure of a come-out or a proper season for her eldest daughter. "Really, darling,"Alexia's mother had said at the time in tones of the deepest condescension, "with that nose and that skin, there is simply no point in us going to the expense. I have got your sisters to think of." So Alexia, whose nose really wasn't that big and whose skin really wan't that tan, had gone on the shelf at fifteen.

The atmosphere of this book is jolly, whimsical, curious, and it will leave you squealing and running for the next one. There really wasn't much that I could argue with. Other than, of course, Alexia's horrible family, but that's life for you. There were a few things left unanswered by luckily all of those mysteries were resolved within the rest of the series. In fact, with each book you read, the mysteries pile up more and more. Make sure you pay attention!

This story can be described as a Teapunk, Gothic Spoof, Urbane fantasy. There's sarcasm and comedy, and lots of romance. It's like an erotic supernatural comedy classic? READ. IT. But don't take it too seriously.

girl    book

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