>> Thursday, June 14, 2012
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.Soulless is set in a steampunk + paranormal version of Victorian England. It's a world with your typical steampunkish advanced technology (think dirigibles), but also a world where vampires and werewolves and ghosts not only exist, but are accepted in society (they've even got their own regulatory body, the Bureau of Unnatural Registry).
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?
In this world, Alexia Tarabotti is somewhere in the middle between human and supernatural, as she has no soul. Because of the way things work and what is needed to transition between human and supernatural, this basically means she has the power to nullify a supernatural's power. She's therefore very dangerous to them. Due to her soullessness, Alexia has always found herself apart from society. It doesn't help that, in addition to her lack of soul, she also inherited her "unfeminine" looks from her Italian father.
Anyway, plotty things happen which throw Alexia into contact with Lord Maccon, the head of the Bureau, who happens to be a sexy werewolf, and as they spend time together investigating what the hell's going on, their adversarial relationship turns into something more.
Oh, this was fun! It felt fresh and original, and at the same time, pleasingly familiar. It feels a bit like Amelia Peabody and Emerson vs the supernatural (which, to be fair, they have done already. Kind of). Seriously, the heroine is Peabody-like down to the parasol (which makes me pretty certain the author meant it as a conscious homage), and the hero has Emerson's temper!
Carriger balances the very strong romance with a fascinating world, which I thought was really well-constructed. There are plenty of fun secondary characters and although we get our HEA here, there clearly is more story to come (and I would have known so even without knowing that there are 4 more books in the series out already!).
MY GRADE: A B+.