Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

This is a review of “Soulless” by Gail Carriger. Published in paperback by Orbit  in October  2009. Amazon Canada has it listed for $9.99.  This is the first book in the “Parasol Protectorate” series.

I returned from holidays to one of the worst fates that can happen to a book nerd -– a sewer backup.  As I looked at the empty space where our bookshelves used to be, I realized I needed immediate cheering up. Fortunately, Gail Carriger’s Soulless was in my To Be Read pile, above the high water mark.

A combination of alternate history, steampunk, mystery,  paranormal romance, and a comedy of manners; Soulless is delightful. The book is set in an alternate Victorian England, where Vampires and Werewolves are real and recognized members of society and often influential members of that society. The heroine -– Alexia Tarabotti must find out why she was attacked by a Vampire, who should have recognized her as being Soulless.

The humour might not make you laugh out loud – but you’ll surely smile as vampire attacks are described as “rude” and even the most dire circumstances can be interrupted by tea. One of the more amusing conceits of the book is how werewolves and vampires must control themselves in order to conform to Victorian mores. In this, Vampires have an advantage over Werewolves, since they have more emotional self-control. Carriger uses paranormal and historical romance tropes balanced with other influences to great effect. I think that even if you are not a romance fan, the steampunk, mystery and comedy will be satisfying.

It's always fun to pair books with similar settings or themes together and an enjoyable book pairing would be, to read Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula alongside Soulless. In fact, Ms. Carriger has Anno Dracula listed on her website as an example of a steampunk book. 

Where Newman takes the horror route in his Vampire Victorian England; Carriger uses humour.  I still don’t know how I missed Anno Dracula when it was first released in 1992 (except to note that I’m generally not a horror fan).  It's been getting noticed again through reviews on the TOR website and mentions in the Agony Column of Newman has many shout outs to other Vampire and Horror novels, movies and comics throughout the book and it is a fun challenge for the book nerd to find them. A cheat sheet of sorts is available by reading the Wikipedia entry for Anno Dracula.

Soulless appears to be Ms Carriger’s first book, the second book in the series Changeless has already been released and the third book Blameless is coming out in September.  That is my favourite kind of series -– one with very little waiting between books.

So, please check out Soulless, recommended to you by WebGenii.

Soulless by Gail Carriger
# Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
# Publisher: Orbit; Original edition (October 1, 2009)
# ISBN-10: 0316056634
# ISBN-13: 978-0316056632

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WebGenii is a SF book nerd and all-round geek.

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