Soulless by Gail Carriger

Title: Soulless
Author: Gail Carriger (pen name of Tofa Borregaard)
Genre: fiction, fantasy/”horror” (alternative historical fiction?)
ISBN: 9780316056632
Pages: 357
Year Published: 2009
Source: personal collection
Rating: 4/5
Reason for Reading: Dom’s review enticed me 🙂

Book Description (back of book):

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 to 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?

My Thoughts: I quite enjoyed this novel 🙂 However, I fear my love of another series of books has made this one fall subpar, to me personally. You may recall that I am a large fan of the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig. It has history (real history), romance, and espionage/mystery all rolled into one. This series is very similar to the series of which Soulless begins–The Parasol Protectorate series. However, comparatively speaking, Soulless fell below my expectations. I thought there might be a little more mystery to it, but was shocked and dismayed to find that the vampires and werewolves in question in the summary are well known to London society–I think if they had cloaked this little bit of information from the general public characters it would have made a world of difference to me, as a reader. And, it is also possible that I just like the time period of the Pink Carnation books (1810s) to the period of the Parasol Protectorate books (1860s, as American Civil War is mentioned as still going on). I think the two series were just similar enough that I went into Soulless thinking I would feel about it the same as the Pink Carnation series. I have a feeling the Parasol Protectorate books are just slightly hard to believe as true (for obvious reason–if vampires/werewolves existed, I don’t think they would flaunt it in public), and I always like a tad bit of possible truth to my books…Or nothing believable. This is sort of in-between, and I didn’t like the balance.

HOWEVER, not comparatively speaking, I still quite enjoyed the novel! There were a great many interesting things, especially Carriger’s portrayal of vampires and werewolves. Here are some of those things I found particularly interesting:

  • Vampires can do two things (to be socially acceptable): take blood from various willing drones (servants who typically wish to be turned someday) or to pay blood-whores–“One simply did not attack unannounced and uninvited!”
  • Werewolves have servants (not werewolves themselves) called clavigers to lock them away when the moon is full so they don’t hurt anyone–often these clavigers hope to be turned someday.
  • Vampires and werewolves have an excess of soul from being turned–that is what makes them supernatural. Therefore, the more soul a person has to begin with means they are stronger and more likely to be turned to a vampire and live.
  • Werewolves do not get bigger than their human form, for the most part. “The basic principles of conservation of mass still applied whether supernatural or not. Werewolves had to obey the laws of physics just like everyone else.” 🙂
  • Only women vampires can create more vampires. They are called queens if they have “offspring” (reminds me of bees haha)

Don’t be worried about the romantical aspect of this book. The sexual tension between two main characters is quite obvious from the get go, which, of course sort of ruins the end of the novel (especially because it is the beginning of a series). And, while the romantic parts of the novel are stated in more blunt terms (than in the Pink Carnation books, for instance), it really isn’t too bad. However, I think it sort of distracts from the rest of the novel–the sexual tension I mean. It would have been much more thrilling had that romance not been ever-present somehow.

Minnie Driver

My Thoughts on the Cover: I think it is fairly representative of the novel. The shady sort of London in the background, even if (I’m pretty sure) the photo is from a time after the 1860s. The woman portraying Alexia on the cover is not how I picture the character, given Carriger’s descriptions. I pictured someone like Minnie Driver to be Alexia–the woman on the cover looks to have no real curves where Minnie could be portrayed to have them 🙂 (I pictured Lord Maccon to sort of look like Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, however not cartoon 🙂 ) Anyways, I do like the parasol–it looks mechanical and slightly sinister, as it is a sort of weapon and plays a role in the novel.

One thought on “Soulless by Gail Carriger

  1. Dominique says:

    Glad to hear you enjoyed it. I haven’t read any of the Pink Carnation books, maybe I should!
    I agree about the cover, I like it but the girl pictured doesn’t match the descriptions of Alexia.

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