Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: fiction, fantasy/”horror” (alternative historical fiction?)
Year Published: 2010
Source: personal collection
Reason for Reading: 2010 Resolution (read 5 books published in 2010)
continuing the Parasol Protectorate series (my review of PP #1, Soulless, found here)
Book Description (from back of book):
Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to finder her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears–leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.
But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulles can.
She might even find time to track down her wayward husband–if she feels like it.
My Thoughts: While I found the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series, Soulless, to be a bit predictable, this second installment wasn’t all that predictable. I am starting to get used to the idea of supernaturals running around and being part of all the normal society in England. I still think it might be horribly wrong to have this set in the time of Queen Victoria, who, I hear, was one of the stuffiest/prude-ish monarchs of the British Empire. Plus, the idea that the dewan, potentate, and muhjah would have council with the queen is preposterous–the queen has little political power; it is the prime minister who should be doing that. (But, I admit, it makes for a better fiction novel to interject the queen.) And I also think it is wrong of Carriger to be using the term “ton”, referring to the British high society as the term really only applied during the Regency era, about 50 years before the time of this novel. Although, I do enjoy that in this series, the people who want to become supernatural are the only ones that “can”. The vampires and werewolves metamorphose only those who have petitioned to have it done to them (at least in theory). This makes the supernatural seem not so dangerous as other authors might portray them.
Anyways, technicalities aside, I found this book quite the cliff-hanger! I don’t tend to read mystery and horror novels where I assume this cliff-hanging is more common, so this was different for me. I did read large chunks of it at a time, because of this. And there was more mystery in this installment–as mentioned earlier, I found the first book rather predictable. (If I hadn’t owned the second book already, I’m not sure I would have read it because of my disappointment in the first.) I often found myself trying to figure out what was plaguing the supernaturals–the vampires, werewolves, and ghosts are plagued by something causing them to lose their supernatural powers and be “humanized”. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful at guessing what was the cause up until right before Alexia also figured it out.
However, I was partially right in what I had been theorizing. Sort of. I had been thinking that maybe it was one of the Egyptian artifacts brought back (which it was), something like the Tablet of Akmenrah a la Night at the Museum (which it wasn’t). I hadn’t really given much thought to the mummy being the cause, I thought it was more or less another artifact. But, learning that two preternaturals cannot occupy the same space makes sense. It was when Alexia was feeling funny near the mummy I started thinking it might be the cause.
And I DEFINITELY didn’t foresee the end of the novel. What a cliff-hanger!! Luckily for me, I was probably only half as surprised as I could’ve been, because I did foresee a small detail to the ending.
As soon as Alexia and her crew had boarded the dirigible, and Alexia felt “airsick” that one morning, I began to think that perhaps she was pregnant. This wasn’t just because it sounded like morning sickness, but because I remembered Felicity had mentioned numerous times that Alexia was, basically, gaining weight. The two together added up as pregnant in my mind. And, since I didn’t realize before the ending that werewolves were not capable of procreating living children, I didn’t think twice about my theory. I really cannot believe Lord Maccon. Maybe he thinks that, because Alexia is so willing to be ravished by himself, he also thinks she loves it so much and wants it from others as well. But, then again, I can see where his fears lie in logic. However, if he happens to produce (I just have to be blunt about this) supernatural sperm and she produces preternatural eggs, they would cancel out to make regular/natural children?
But the ending is so different from that of the first novel. This ending leaves me craving for more and that is why I’m glad the third book came out only a couple of weeks ago. I kid you not when I say I finished this book when I woke up this morning and then got dressed and drove to the nearest bookstore and bought the third book. That is how much I want to know what happens!!
My Thoughts on the Cover: Pretty average. Obviously it is Alexia on the front, still looking unlike I picture her in the story. But the dirigible (that’s airship/zeppelin) floating in the background isn’t really what I picture. Yes, I know that’s what they really look like. But the way Carriger describes the dirigible makes me imagine a boat suspended from a big floating balloon (like a zeppelin), a la Captain Shakespeare’s ship in the movie Stardust. (Sorry about the photo, it was the best I could find to show you what I mean.)