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Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate) Mass Market Paperback – International Edition, October 1, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Carriger debuts brilliantly with a blend of Victorian romance, screwball comedy of manners and alternate history. Prickly, stubborn 25-year-old bluestocking Alexia Tarabotti is patently unmarriageable, and not just because she's large-nosed and swarthy. She's also soulless, an oddity and a secret even in a 19th-century London that mostly accepts and integrates werewolf packs, vampire hives and ghosts. The only man who notices her is brash Lord Conall Maccon, a Scottish Alpha werewolf and government official, and (of course) they dislike each other intensely. After Alexia kills a vampire with her parasol at a party—how vulgar!—she and Conall must work together to solve a supernatural mystery that grows quite steampunkishly gruesome. Well-drawn secondary characters round out the story, most notably Lord Akeldama, Alexia's outrageous, italic-wielding gay best vampire friend. This intoxicatingly witty parody will appeal to a wide cross-section of romance, fantasy and steampunk fans. (Oct.)
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"Carriger debuts brilliantly with a blend of Victorian romance, screwball comedy of manners and alternate history. . . . This intoxicatingly witty parody will appeal to a wide cross-section of romance, fantasy and steampunk fans."―Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Deliciously, vampiricly satiric, a tremendously clever, sexy read."―Karen Marie Moning, New York Times bestselling author
"Laugh out loud funny and refreshingly different, SOULLESS kept me turning pages well into the night. I enjoyed every minute of this wonderfully unexpected twist on paranormals...Wickedly funny."―Angie Fox, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Demon Slayer
"I was enchanted from start to finish."―sfrevu.com
"Light-hearted and fast-paced, Soulless will please fans of fantasy, historical fantasy and paranormal romance alike."―The Miami Herald
"Soulless is a character-driven romp with great world building and delicious rapier wit that recalls Austen and P.G. Wodehouse."―i09.com
"Soulless has all the delicate charm of a Victorian parasol, and all the wicked force of a Victorian parasol secretly weighted with brass shot and expertly wielded. Ravishing."―Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians
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Top Customer Reviews
-The Setting: Carriger sets up a fascinating world that entices the reader to continue on with the story almost by its existence alone. Vampire “hives”, werewolf packs, Shadow Counsels, Beureua of Unnatural Registry—there’s so many interesting paranormal quirks added to the usual alternate-universe-Victorian-era that steampunk introduces by default, and yet none of them seem out of place. They’re woven into the fabric of the story masterfully, creating a rich backdrop for the story.
-The Plot: While the story starts out a little slow, when it picks up it brings the reader along for a heck of a ride. Soulless knows when to hit the proper beats, when to pump up the action, and when to allow a little quiet time for the characters to gather themselves. Once I started reading, I didn’t stop until I had finished it a few hours later. I was totally all in for the ride and, overall, was fairly satisfied with the ending. It left the world open for further exploration (which is done, presumably, in the next four books of the series) while at the same time delivering the requisite HEA with a nice bow on top. Were there any great twists or surprises? No, but I wasn’t expecting any. It was just a fun read.
-The Tone: This was obviously meant to be a sort of mystery/romance hybrid, akin to Bones, Castle, and others of that ilk. Maintaining a consistent tone between those two very different genres is hard and, unfortunately, Soulless doesn’t pull it off very well. The perfect scene to express this is just after Alexia has been captured by the bad guys (left nameless for spoiler reasons). She hears her self-professed dear friend screaming in nearly inhuman pain as he is being tortured and crucified; the literal next instant she’s having witty banter with Lord Maccon in between intense making out. The plot wants to be both gritty and flirty and, in the process, ultimately fails to deliver either with much satisfaction.
-The Characters: None of the characters are badly written, but they are unfortunately cliché. Alexia is the sadly stereotypical (by this point in literature, anyway) perfect female heroine, also known as a Mary Sue. The reader is told she is “ugly” because of her Italian blood in an otherwise British cast, but obviously very pretty and buxom. She’s super special, so rare in fact that she’s the only “soulless” individual living in the British Isles. She’s smarter and wittier than anyone else, especially more than the other women in the story. This, sadly, makes her rather boring to read about; characters without flaws are nearly impossible for readers to bond with. The rest of the characters are also stereotypical. Lord Maccon is your average Alpha male (literally), perfect and manly and smart but not quite as smart as Alexia, who is apparently even more of an Alpha than him despite being simply human. The secondary characters are more interesting but given little screen time. While no one is blatantly offensive, no one comes across as original or lifelike either.
Overall, I give Soulless a 3 out of 5. It’s far from a horrible read and manages to be quite fun, even if it comes across like a Young Adult thriller with more in common with Meyer than Austen. If you enjoy steampunk or the paranormal, there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a read one afternoon. But if you’re looking for an original story or even titillating romance, this book sadly doesn’t deliver.
There are few settings I love more than Victorian London. Often when fantastical books are set in this time they combine my favorite elements of books: Magic, steampunk inventions and Victorian sensibilities. This book is no exception.
The entire plot line is ridiculous amounts of quick paced fun and hilarity. Alexia finds herself in ridiculous situations which made me laugh out loud at times. The plot is a bit predictable but it won me over anyway. The quick witted poke fun at the slow witted and everyone has a good time.
From the very first pages I found these characters irresistible. Alexia is witty and has some modern ideas but she is still a proper Victorian lady. I loved how Carriger created a strong lady of her time rather than a lady out of time. I was submerged deeper into the story and the world because Alexia was written so well. Carriger also created a seamless combination of the supernatural and Victorian manners.
In short, this book is a barrel of fun and I already have book two so I'll be continuing on this adventure soon.