Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Title: Soulless (Book 1 of the Parasol Protectorate Series)
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit
Pub. Date: 9/29/09
Genre: Steampunk/Fantasy/Supernatural/YA-ish
Main Themes: Steampunk, Alternate worlds, Werewolves, Vampires, Spinsters, Love, Murders, Disappearances
Pages: 373
Plot (from back of ARC):

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire – and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening in London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?”

I’ll admit that I have no clue where to start when it comes to writing a review for Soulless! I can easily say that it was one of the most fun and imaginative books I’ve read this year, but there is just so much more to this book in addition to those details.

I loved the plot of Soulless. There was a perfect mix of romance, supernatural creatures, and mystery. Gail Carriger wove the different elements of Soulless together seamlessly. When I started reading Soulless, I was astounded – each element of the book is so unique and seemingly separate, yet this debut author found a way to them all together into a masterpiece!

The world that Gail Carriger has set her debut novel in is amazing. Alexia brushes shoulders with not characters typical of the Victorian era, but werewolves and vampires as well. I really enjoyed Gail’s unique take on the origins of werewolves and vampires. The supernatural aspect that really interested me though was Alexia’s own affiction: her lack of soul. When I first read the description, my mind immediately jumped to demon, but Soulless offers a whole new take on what it means to lack a soul…

This is also my first foray into reading steampunk, and I must admit, I’m now intrigued. Soulless explores the ideas of traditional steampunk, which is basically a world that people of the Victorian era envisioned the future to be. Gail’s steampunk is unique in that many of the advancements that occur are due to the presence of vampires and werewolves. Some popular steampunk books include: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Airborn by Kenneth Oppel, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, and The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

Alexia Tarabotti is one of the most exciting and dangerous spinsters I have ever encountered between the covers of a book. She was simply so much fun to read! I was always waiting to see what trouble and inappropriate circumstances she would find herself in next. I especially enjoyed her verbal sparring matches with Lord Maccon. Two of my favorite characteristics of Alexia is her acceptance of her flaws and shortcomings and her confidence in her own abilities. Alexia is a smart, witty, and unique character that makes me proud to be unique as well! Alexia may be living in a time (and world) much different than that of those who will read her story, but she can still teach girls and women of a today a valuable lesson about being yourself, despite being told that who you are isn’t fashionable or correct.

The romance in Soulless was wonderfully written. Gail perfectly balanced the social norms of the time with steamy, fun romantic scenes. Despite the fact that they were occuring in Victorian times, the scenes seemed natural. The romance in the book all came together perfectly due to the supernatural aspect of Alexia’s world, which made the romance scenes more believable and intense!

Ratings (out of 10):
Plot: 10
Charaters: 10
Writing Style: 10
Romance: 10
Originality: 10

Total: 50/50 (A!)

I can’t wait to see what trouble Alexia encounters in the next installment of The Parasol Protectorate, Changeless, which is due out next year from Orbit!



36 thoughts on “Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

  1. This book sounds so cool! I hadn't heard of it until I read this and now I'm definitely itching to get my hands on a copy. You wrote a great review, I'm glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  2. Hurrah! I happened upon this book on Amazon long before it was due to come out and have been eagerly anticipating it (while simultaneously hoping it is as delightful as it sounds). Your review gives me courage! And yet sorrow, for my wallet is so empty that upon opening it one is likely to find moths.

  3. Thanks for an interesting review. I'd heard the premise for the book but was a little unsure as to how it would play out. Glad to hear that it's a great overall package. I look forward to reading it.

  4. Right, now I want to read it EVEN MORE. I was originally interested because, you know, Victorian-era and vampires, although the more I learn about the world she's built, the more fascinated I get with it. I loe alternate-history stuff where fantasy elements are worked in so they belong there. Love steampunk, too, although I haven't found much of it, so I'm really looking forward to that aspect.I'm curious about the whole soulless thing, too–I originally assumed it referred to the vampires, but the fact that it's Alexia is…well, I'm wondering if it'll be more similar to other fandoms' portrayals of soullessness or something totally different. Soulless entities usually either seem to be evil or just sort of dead, so I'm wondering just how Alexia is different.

  5. Interesting….very interesting. I love the book synopsis (and of course the review!) but what I find most intriguing is the cast of characters mixed with the plot. It sounds as if the typical cliches of these creatures were avoided thus turning them into something brand new. Great job!

  6. This sounds like an awesome book! I absolutely LOVE and OBSSESS over any YA supernatural book! It really sounds like my type of book! Although I will admit I’ve never heard of steampunk before. I’m not even gonna TRY to figure out what that means. I’m just gonna consult one of my trustiest friends, Google!!!

  7. After learning about this book, I have been dying to get my hands on it, and you have made me want it more. I've been looking for some good steampunk, and this looks perfect. It's got everything I need!

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