“It’s got gay vampires, dirigibles, and madly wielded parasols in it. What more could you want from a book?” ~ Gail Carriger
It’s hard not to agree with this statement from this quirky and fun American English author. I recieved the first book from her series The Parasol Protectorate for Christmas from a family member, and was immediately intrigued. Soulless, once opened, refused to be closed again before completion. Each of the subsequent books was eagerly awaited by yours truly, and if you haven’t read them, I suggest you go out and do so RIGHT NOW! There are five books in the series in total: Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, and Timeless.
Gail Carriger used just the right mix of humor, adventure, and romance in this steampunk series to create a world that is facinating in it’s originality. Set in an alternate Victorian London, we follow the main character, Alexia Tarabotti, through her many adventures and their accompanying cups of tea and treacle tart consumption. Her status as a preternatural – or someone lacking a soul (hence the title Soulless) – makes her a bit of an annoyance to the supernaturals that tend to hang out in her autocratic circles. The Scientific theory of this alternate Victorian London holds that those with excess of soul can be turned to either werewolf or vampire (or sometimes leave a ghost behind). When touched by a preternatural such as Alexia, they are rendered mortal. That along with her logic centered thinking, inability to keep what she’s thinking to herself, and tendency to smack people upside the head with her handy dandy parasol makes her a nuisance to most who she encounters, and a pleasure to follow throughout the series. Her appreciation for food and manners makes her especially close to my heart.
The supporting cast is just as fascinating and unprecedented as Alexia Tarabotti herself. A flamboyantly gay vampire named Lord Akaldama and his entourage of fashion minded males give humor and unyielding friendship throughout the series. Lord Maccon offers an unending supply of irritants for our main character, allowing her practical-to-a-fault personality to really shine. He also helps us to love her even more when it becomes clear how very fond of her he is. Professor Lyall offers a calming influence, and tends to quietly point our more flamboyant characters in the right directions. Of course, there are many more characters – we mustn’t forget our dear Ivy – but you have to read the books to uncover their hidden depths all on your own!
Gail Carriger rocked my world with this series, and I have no doubt she will continue to do so in her other works. The Finishing School Series, which will comprise of four novels, and is set in the same amazing world as The Parasol, is due to have the first book released in February 2013. She also has plans to follow the exploits of one of Alexia’s close family members (I won’t give it away!) in The Parasol Protectorate Abroad.
You may think you’re tired of vampires and werewolves, but Gail Carriger is likely to prove you wrong! Find out for yourself – go out and pick up the books today!
As if the novels weren’t exciting enough, she has also released a manga edition of Soulless. I was impressed with both the artwork and story telling, and would definitely recommend checking it out after reading the text version!