Steam Punk is a paranormal genre that I’ve enjoyed reading for a long time. This is the second part to a post I started last week.
You can check out my first post here, where I reviewed the two series, The Chronicles of Light and Shadow by Liesel Schwarz and The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.
In this post I want to talk about the amazing and hilarious book series The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger.
“I suspect that might be the difference between a drinker and alcoholic; the one merely reads books, the other needs books to make it through the day.” – Gail Carriger
Well, bottom’s up then! One should never “drink” alone, right?
Doesn’t that quote just say it all? This author has made me laugh on more than one occasion, as have her characters. I am missing them dearly actually, since I finished reading the last book in the series, at the beginning of October. I was intelligent enough to realize this was going to happen before I started the series, so I purchased the e-book box set. I didn’t have to wait at all between books. How smart am I?
Book series summary:
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?
The Parasol Protectorate is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.
I want to try to explain the whole soulless thing. Alexia doesn’t have a soul. She was born that way, because her father didn’t have one either. She is what is called, a preternatural. She has the capability of “removing” the supernatural nature of vampires, werewolves and ghosts when she touches them. It’s inconvenient at times, beneficial at others. This also makes her less emotional. She can be very pragmatic and practical. I love this quality about her.
Lord Maccon actually explains this fairly well to Alexis, when she is confused as to why she has so many enemies.
Excerpt from Soulless:
“Counterbalance is the scientific idea that any given force has an innate opposite. For example, every naturally occurring poison has a naturally occurring antidote–usually located in proximity. Much in the way that the juice of crushed nettle leaves applied to the skin relieves the nettle sting.”
“What has this to do with me?”- Alexia
“Well, vampires believe that preternaturals are their counterbalance. That it is your elemental purpose to neutralize them.”- Lord Maccon
I feel compelled to mention Lord Maccon, Earl of Woolsey, right away, because he plays an important role in Alexia’s life, and I adore him because he reminds me of my husband. Big, burly, and seriously male. He is a werewolf and an alpha one at that. (No, my husband doesn’t look like David Gandy, LOL)
Excerpt from Changeless:
“Well, I had to bring some kind of companion. Society would not very well condone my floating across the length of England by myself.”
“Mmmm.” Lord Maccon glanced over, eyes heavy-lidded, at the still-nervous Ivy. She had not yet reconciled herself to talking with an earl dressed only in a cloak, so was standing a little distance off with her back to them.
“Give her a bit more recuperation time,” advised Alexia. “Ivy’s sensitive, and you are such a shock to the system, even fully dressed.”
The earl grinned. “Praise, wife? How unusual from you. Nice to know I still have to capacity to unsettle others, even at my age. But stop trying to avoid the subject. Why are you here?”
“Why, darling”–Lady Maccon batted her eyelashes at him.–“I was coming to Scotland to see you of course. I missed you so.”
“Ah, wife, how romantic of you,” he replied, not believing a word of it. He looked down at her fondly. Not as far down as he would have had to on most women, mind you. His Alexia was rather strapping. He preferred her that way. Undersized women reminded him of yippy dogs.
Banter. There is tons of banter between Alexia and Maccon. I love them together, even when they are fighting. Gail’s writing style is perfect for this time period.
There are also some secondary characters that need to be mentioned, that by the fourth and fifth book, I had become very attached to them.
Lord Akeldama, her only trusted vampire friend.
Excerpts from Heartless:
Lady Maccon had always admired Lord Akeldama’s ability to remain patently unruffled by the world around him. It was as commendable as his never-ending efforts to ensure that his small corner of London was filled with nothing but beauty and pleasant conversation. But sometimes, and she should never say such a thing openly, it smacked of cowardice. She wondered if the immortal’s avoidance of life’s ugliness was a matter of a cat amusing himself among the butterflies without a need to interfere should their wings get torn off. They were only butterflies after all.
Mrs. Ivy Tunstell, her one human friend.
After a moment’s thought, Alexia stood laboriously and waddled over to the umbrella stand to retrieve her parasol. This she opened and placed point side downward in the center of the room. Since the room was so very small, this did manage to take up most of the free space. Motioning Ivy to stand, Alexia handed her the handle and said, “Spin the parasol three times and repeat after me: I shield in the name of fashion. I accessorize for one and all. Pursuit of truth is my passion. This I vow by the great parasol.”
Ivy did as she was told, face serious and concentrated.
Professor Lyall, Maccon’s Beta, and Biffy, Lord Akeldama’s drone/lover. Mr. Floote, Alexia’s butler, who also worked for her father. I wouldn’t underestimate any of the secondary characters in this series.
I wish could quote scenes for all of the secondary characters that stood out for me. This series just got better and better with each book. Lucky for me and Gail’s fans, she has started another series, Finishing School. The first book is out already, Etiquette & Espionage. The second book, Curtsies & Conspiracies, just came out November 5th. I am so excited to get back into Gail Carriger’s “steam punk” world.
Here is more about the author:
Ms. Carriger writes steam punk urbane fantasy comedies of manners to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. She then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She now resides in the Colonies, surrounded by a harem of shoes, where she insists on tea imported directly from London and cats that pee into toilets. Her Parasol Protectorate books are all New York Times Bestsellers.
Thanks so much for letting me rave and review some of my favorite books in the paranormal “steam punk” genre.