Soulless (Parasol Protectorate #1)
by Gail Carriger
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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 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?
It had been a long time since I’d read a book that was such pure and delightful fun. Soulless is exactly that, and I have to say, I definitely think going the audio route made it even more so. The narrator really helped bring Alexia to life, and I couldn’t help but laugh at her antics. There are two main points of view in this book – Alexia and Lord Maccon – and even though the narrator is female, she did both of them the justice they deserved. It was almost like it was the characters themselves telling their story, which is not always the case in audiobooks. The humor, sass, and snark came through perfectly, and made me thoroughly enjoy this book from start to finish.
I do want to say, though, that as funny as most parts of this book are, I actually had such a visceral reaction to Alexia’s constant penchant for putting herself down. You can tell that she’s just been hit over the head her whole life about how different from everyone else she looks, and it’s completely eroded her own opinion of herself. She is just so genuinely perplexed that Lord Maccon might actually find her attractive, and it really just hurt my heart a whole, whole lot. I cannot even imagine having to live with a family that does nothing but berate you, and it becomes so normal for her that she simply accepts their opinions as fact. Of course, in typical Alexia fashion, she does her best to cover up her insecurities with her wit and attitude, but they’re still there, still eating at her, and I honestly wish I could have reached through the screen of my Kindle and slapped her mother and sisters more than once.
I also appreciated that, while this is your typical paranormal with vampires and werewolves, it was still different than what you’d expect. I liked the fact that the paranormal citizens are basically integrated into society, and yet people are still pretty uneasy about them. I also liked how the two types of creatures – for lack of a better word – created their own societies and rules, and appreciated the glimpse into both of them. As a general rule, I liked the werewolves more than the vampires here, but definitely had a soft spot for Lord Akeldama and Alexia’s feelings towards him. I also liked Lord Maccon’s jealousy towards Alexia spending time with Akeldama, even if it did take Alexia a long time to figure it out.
All in all, I found Soulless to be completely delightful in every way. It had an interesting story, a unique paranormal world, and two very head strong and stubborn characters. The romance – while you know it’s coming – was nicely developed and firmly in the “slow burn” category, which was also nice to see. I don’t know if I’ll go ahead and read the rest of the series or not, as I’ve heard mixed things, but am certainly glad I gave this one a shot!