19 March, 2010

Review: Soulless, by Gail Carriger

Imagine you sit on a revolving chair in a dark room. The chair rotate slowly. Spotlights switch on and off. First you see only light. But then you recognize that each spotlight illuminate a word consisting of characters flying through the air. You try to identify them...........Parasol.........Vampires....... Dirigibles..... Werewolves...... Victoriana...... Steam....... London..... Spinster......... Tea....... Romance ......... Horror.......... Mystery...... Manners...... Souls

After a while the chair stops to rotate. Look, there is a small colored spot and it is growing...... Numbers... Characters .... Brackets.... dancing all in a tumble....... It doesn't make sense but then you detect the order and you read:

Soulless (2009) [US] [UK] , by Gail Carriger

This is the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series. Welcome to the world of Alexia Tarabotti. She lives in Victorian London. 26 years old and not married. That makes her a spinster which is maddening for her mother who is most interested in to wed her. Alexia is well educated and bears a secret. It is not her dead Italian father. She is soulless....

During one of the boring balls she has to attend Alexia retires to the library in order to refresh. And there the unforeseen happens. A vampire attacks Alexia. She rescues herself by killing the vampire.

Vampire? Vampires in London? Yes, side by side with the human inhabitants live vampires and werewolves. They are part of the society. It is Lord Maccon - head of the Bureau of Unnatural Registry (BRU) and werewolf - who wants to know why a vampire attacks a soulless......

Vampires, Romance, Werwolves.... What the hell is going on with me? Am I infected with this mysterious urban fantasy virus? I think no because on the other scale pan you find London, Steam, Victoriana.
Put all these classifications into a pot and hand a wooden spoon to the cook named Gail Carriger. Her debut dish taste delicious.

Soulless breathes Victoriana. It is a comedy of manners and at the same time a time travel and so much more. If you don't fall in love with these so alive and charming characters with strengths and weaknesses well settled in their world. Gail Carriger's London and society is well depicted. The "steamy" elements could have been more for my taste. But I think this would have destroyed the balance of the story itself. Gail did an awesome job with the integration of werewolves and vampires. If I didn't know better I would say this is also a history book. I liked even the romance part which is unusual for me. Alexia Tarabotti is a sassy heroine. And she is far beyond to be a vampire slayer like Buffy.

For me Gail Carriger is the Ada Lovelace of the urban steampunk romance!

I highly recommend Soulless to all people who start to drool when they hear or read a combination of following buzzwords:
Victoriana, Romance, Vampires, Werewolves, Steam, London, Manners, Alternate History, Dirigibles

Bona Fide's Book Oracle

What is Bona Fide's Book Oracle? To keep it short. It is a palaver about the reviewed book held by ediFanoB and his alter ego Bona Fide. And I am the keeper of the minutes. Now read my minutes..

Bona: "Fide, would you be so kind as to pass me a cup of tea." Fide: "Of course my dear. Your treacle tart is phenomenal." Bona: "Fide, you let me turn pink. I'm flattered." Fide: "I'm so sorry. I know rubescence is indecorous." Bona: "Did you hear what happened to Miss Alexia Tarabotti?" Fide: "You won't believe it but I have been there (mentally)." Bona: "Did you travel again with Mr Wells' time machine?" Fide: "He is such a gentlemen. He accompanied me." Bona: "Lovely. Hopefully you invite me next time." Fide: "Of course my dear, of course." Bona: "I feel uneasy. The keeper of the minutes is observing us. Today he looks so animlistic." Fide: "Oh my good. You're right. Look at the fur on his hands. Do you think he is a....." Bona: "Werewolve?" Fide: "Where is my parasol?" Bona: "You should ring for the manservant." Fide: "ediFanoB, my parasol please." ediFanoB: "Excusez-moi, mistress Fide. You don't own a parasol." Bona: "Quelle suprise! Fide, you are a misstress?" Fide: "That is absolutely uncondonable!! I'm neither female nor male. I'm just a virtual apparition. I'm the guest in a mind and I live on reading books!" Bona: "I'm relieved my dear. But what do we do without a parasol?" ediFanoB: "May I intercept? Yes? Thank you my lovely apparitions. Why don't you tell the keeper of the minutes something about the adventure of this spinster?" Fide: "Lovely! What a wonderful idea." Bona:" The spinster is called Alexia Tarabotti and she has a secret." Fide: "And as we both are reliable friends of Miss Alexia Tarabotti, she gave away her secret to us." Bona[whispers]: "She is soulless!" Fide: "Don't tell more about her. Let's talk about the book. Bona: "Gail Carriger is witty writer. She knows a lot about the Victorian Era." Fide: "And she revives the ad nauseam vampire and werewolf theme." Bona: "For me Soulless is a three S story." Fide: "I fully agreemy dear." Bona: "Shall we explain the three S to our furry friend?" Fide: "He doesn't look very intelligent today." Bona: "We have been unbelievably polite today. We should show magnanimity until the end." Fide: "Of course my dear. My docile furry friend, let me explain the three S for you: Sassy, Steamy, Smart." Bona[bowing]: "Au revoir mon cher rugueux ami! Fide: "Au revoir!"

I'm the keeper of the minutes and full moon is approaching soon. I need flesh..... human flesh!!! Er,er,er, please excuse me. All these French words confuse me. And this is the summary:

Soulless is a three S story: Sassy, Steamy, Smart.

Gail Carriger's website delivers more information about the series, steampunk and other topics.

You don't know much about Victorian clothing, especially for women? Then visit
Soulless Victorian Dress-up Doll. There you will learn more in an amusing way.

Anyway don't miss Changeless (2010, March) [US] [UK] and Blameless (2010, September) [US] [UK].

In Soulless parasols played an important part. The cover of Changeless point to dirigibles. And in Blameless we can expect templars.

I don't want to tell more.....

Finally I like you to show an interesting video:
The making of the Blameless book cover:

I "hijacked" the copy of Soulless from my wife. Of course I handed it back after reading and reviewing. As I liked it a lot I ordered copies of Changeless and Blameless in advance.


WonderBunny said...

Loved this book! I am so excited for the next one.

The romance element I think worked really well for this book without making it too girly.

ediFanoB said...


I loved it too. Believe me, normally I don't read romance. But Soulless blewme away.

I can't wait to read Changeless and Blameless.

Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

I have seen this book around the blog and was not sure if I wanted to dig into it. I think now I am going to have to give it a try at some point here. Thank you for the review.

ediFanoB said...


as I said before normally I forgo books related to romance.
But Gail Carriger did a wonderful job.

Give it a try and let me know your impressions.

Unknown said...

Excellent! lol... hijacked the copy.. that's what my husband does...

So a question - how does she feel about your two personalities.. or is it kinda like a threesome...(sorry I had to say that) lol

ediFanoB said...


I share my brain with Bona, Fide, Bona Fide, ediFanoB and the keeper of the minutes. Sometimes it is like a bee hive... But we all love to read books.

I must admit that this was the first time I hijacked a book :) It was more than worth to do it.

Thank you for reading my review and for your comment.

Okie said...

I also really enjoyed the book. I had a feeling I'd like it from when I first read the blurbs about it. I actually bought it for my wife as a gift, but knew that (unless she totally hated it), I would likely be reading it myself before too long. I finally got to it over the past couple of weeks and really liked it. I'm not a huge fan of Alexia as a character, but I suspect I'll grow to appreciate her more in future books...which I do intend to read. :)

kamagra said...

.Parasol....Vampires.... Dirigibles.. Werewolves....?????? these words sound like a horror story, I think that it is so cool, I love the videos in the post because they are really good!22dd

France said...

The novel had a great blend of mystery, romance, science, and humor. The mystery was engrossing and I kept trying to predict what would happen next. I wasn't very successful, but the twists and turns were fun to read. I really enjoyed the romance between Lord Maccon and Alexia. I normally really hate werewolves because it seems like it's all about being super macho, power struggles within the pack, and the fact that women are usually seen as submissive in their society.