Blameless

Blameless by Gail Carriger

The Parasol Protectorate has become my new favorite series. I’ve said it before–I’ve steered clear of series books for a while, but I am completely taken with these. If I had to describe them in a sentence, I would say they are: Supernatural Victorian steampunk comedy romance with a dash of mystery and parasol proddings.

I’m sure my b-chan thinks I’ve become a bit barmy over this series 😛 , but even he has been intrigued by my willingness to drive for miles because I must have the next book now! (woe is me… the next part won’t be released until July 2011! It’s HP-type anticipation all over again.)

One of the things that I love about this series (and there are lots of things that I love about this series) is that while it is a supernatural steampunk romance, it is so much more than the sum of its parts. I like the idea of steampunk (I’m a techie, I’m a Victorian geek, steampunk just fits), but I’ve had trouble finishing some works because it seems like the author gets off on explaining how whatever gadget/contraption/element of society works, rather than developing plot and characters. I’ve not had this problem with Carriger’s series. From the Loontwills’ upper-class-twittery to Floote’s taciturn loyalty, Alexia & Co. arrive on the scene fully formed and armed with witty repartee.

These books make me laugh, and that’s not something that often happens when I read. I may be amused, but I don’t often get a fit of the giggles while reading at the uni’s library and/or coffee shop, thereby earning me evil glares from high-strung undergrads.

I’ll end this ramble here…

To avoid being Spoilerific, I’ve placed my synopsis under the cut tag… so read on if you don’t mind a few teensy spoilers.

Avast! There be SPOILERS ahead!

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Changeless

Changeless by Gail Carriger

I generally try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, but it can’t be helped when reviewing a series like The Parasol Protectorate… one book leads to another, so details are bound to be revealed that might spoil some readers. So this is a great, big SPOILER WARNING!

For those readers wishing to avoid spoilers, I will say that this has become my new favorite series, which is saying a lot as I tend to avoid series books in general unless they are complete… I am waiting for the next book with intense anticipation and feel thoroughly vexed at not being able to have more, more, now, now! Alexia is a wonderfully snarky character, and I love the supernatural elements in Carriger’s London–undead they may be, but they are entirely fresh and original.

Hark! There be SPOILERS AHEAD! Retreat now if you must!

Otherwise, proceed…

Soulless

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Alexia Tarabotti, half-Italian, on-the-shelf, and soulless, finds she is under no obligation to observe all the niceties of Victorian society, so why should she hesitate to order tea in another’s home when a proper tea is not forthcoming? Never did she imagine that something as simple as a request for tea and treacle tart could lead to her becoming involved in unraveling a mysterious plot that threatens the order of Britain’s supernatural citizens. Or that she would suddenly find herself  in the company of alluring, Scottish, and infinitely infuriating Lord Maccon, Alpha werewolf and BUR agent. Vampires! Werewolves! and Deadly Creatures! abound, but Alexia is ready for them with her trusty, silver-tipped parasol.

After the surge in trendy vampire fiction, I experienced what I have termed vampire fatigue–a curious condition sparked by exposure to too many black, red, and white jacketed, Twilight-esque books, leading to much scoffing and arguing on the merits (or lack thereof) of damsel in distress heroines and their pretty-boy vampire counterparts. Oh yes, it brings out the worst of my snobby book reviewer personalities.

Soulless is not one of those books. I love Victorian-inspired fiction. The Victorians have always been my favorites, and those who know me put up with plenty of Victorianisms on my part. When I first saw a post on Soulless, I knew I wanted to read it–spinsters, vampires, and werewolves in a Steampunky, alternate Victorian London? Yep, my kind of story.

In many ways, Soulless reminded me of what I loved best about Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s Sorcery and Cecilia books–witty banter and a no-nonsense heroine who defies convention. It was a fun romp, and I instantly wanted to grab a copy of Changeless, the second in the series. I’ve avoided series for a while, but I’m looking forward to following this one :).