Soulless by Gail Carriger
From Goodreads: 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?
Review: 4 out of 5 Stars
This book was a perfect example of needing to read something at the right time. I have tried reading it 3 or 4 times previously and the soporific effects reached near Austen-like levels for me. But I picked it back up on a whim a few nights ago and could not put it down!
In this novel, supernatural creatures (most notably werewolves and vampires) exist openly in society and are, more or less, accepted. Alexia is a preternatural, which here means she has no soul and her mere touch can bring the supernatural creatures back to a mortal state as long as she remains in contact with them. Her love interest, Lord Maccon, is a werewolf and head of a supernatural police force charged with policing its own kind. He is the Alpha male of his pack (oh, and Scottish…) and he and sharp-tongued Alexia match tempers as often as affections. Oh and also steampunk.
The two get caught up in a mystery relating to disappearing vampires and werewolves. Maccon is the head detective for the supernatural set and Alexia keeps showing up where people are disappearing. The two obviously have some history, but at first their interactions are more on the hate side of the love-hate scale. As the book progresses, the love story heats up. It was very rewarding and oh-so-Victorian, though worth at least a PG-13 rating. I particularly like that it seems that there will be no love triangles or will-they/won’t-they drawn out over the entire series. I am a fan of commitment, and also I think it is more true to the time period in which the book is set.
I loved the alternate history in the novel and thought it added not only to the story itself, but to the telling of the story. You can tell that the author took care with her setting, and not only with the plot and characters. Alexia’s narrations and Victorian sensibilities were often hilarious. I grew a bit tired of the repeated reference to her looks and love of food, but generally thought she was a great character. I also loved the characters around her – her flamboyant vampire friend Lord Adelkama, her prudish best friend, and Maccon’s second-in-command were all well-drawn and fun to read about. It has been awhile since I wanted to jump into a book and befriend everyone in it, but this was definitely one of those books.
The mystery part was also great. I could see a few of the twists and turns coming, but not all. There was plenty left to surprise me at the end.
Overall, this was a very fun and unique read. The steampunk Victorian setting was so well written, and Alexia and Maccon are a super fun love interest. I can’t wait to read more of these adventures.