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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.
UPDATE: After going back and trying to reread this book a second time, my usual test to see if a book is truly good or not, I found myself unable to get past how stiff and unnatural the writing was. Things that I had forced myself to accept the first time through in hopes of finding a good story leaped out at me in the second reading and made it impossible to get immersed in the story at all. Therefore, I'm dropping my rating to two stars as even a mediocre story can be elevated by organic, flowing writing. But if the writing it frozen and rigid, there's no saving the story, in my opinion.
I bought the narration so I could do other things as I listened and am in love with the narrator and hope Ms. Carriger continues using her for subsequent books.
No. I was not paid or anything for my review-I just REALLY love my new treasure in this book and new author.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was entertaining and I liked the fact that the book does not take itself too...Read more