Reading Is Good For You

Book Reviews, Literary News, and Thoughts on Life

Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

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 is 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?

Light on serious issues which require deep thinking on behalf of readers and heavy on  fluffy romance, paranormal creatures and steampunk gadgetry, Gail Carriger’s Soulless is the perfect summer read. Normally,  this is the kind of book that I steer clear of, since I’m not  a huge fan of paranormal books and I’m even less of a fan of romance, but I’d heard so many good things about this series that I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did.

This book doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. It’s certainly isn’t the next great American novel, nor is it a brainless bodice ripper, but it is good fun. It had me in stitches on more than one occasion and I stayed up until three in the morning in order to finish it. If that doesn’t say something about the appeal of this book, then I don’t know what does.

It was also a nice change of pace in a romance-type book to have a spunky, outspoken, spinster female main character, who was not God’s gift to men in the beauty department, and valued improving her mind. Of course, it was these very characteristics combined with the Victorian setting that made Alexia seem rather like Amelia Peabody 2.0 (was I the only one who recognized these similarities?).

I also think the rather over-the-top use of stereotypical characteristics in some of the characters detracted a bit from my liking of the book. I’ve always been under the assumption that male leads in romance novels were generally no more than pretty cardboard cutouts, but in a book that went against the grain with the heroine, could the author not do the same with Lord Maccon? I swear, the man spent most of the novel attacking poor Alexia with his mouth every time he was in her presence. I feel like there was more to his character that perhaps Alexia was aware of (at least this is my hope), but we readers were not privy to. I’m hoping that this issue is remedied in future novels in this series. 

Thank goodness the clever bit of world-building Carriger has done more than made up for these few downfalls. In most paranormal books, it seems like the vampires and werewolves and such are made to hide in the shadows, but in this series, Carriger has brought them into the open and made them an integral part of British society. Combine this with dirigibles and other cool steampunk technology and I was a happy camper.

I’m probably not going to rush out and buy the rest of the books in this series unless Amazon has a really good deal going on, but I enjoyed Soulless enough to go through the hassle of requesting them through inter-library loan. Who knows, the next book (Changeless, is it?) may make a fan out of me as it has so many other readers.

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This entry was posted on August 6, 2011 by in Adult Fiction, Speculative Fiction (Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror) and tagged , , .
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