Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate, Book 1)

PrintA number of individuals of my close acquaintance tease me for my proclivity for buying books based largely on their covers.  I can’t say I blame them – after all, we’re taught “not to judge a book by its cover” and all that.  (I’m actually writing an essay about this right now, perhaps to submit to The Morning News…)

Yet I do it, and often.  Rarely am I disappointed, which is a good thing.  This book, for example, was one whose cover just said “READ ME” and I couldn’t even really tell why.  It is a ridiculous cover: futuristic type crossed with a model clearly green-screened over a hazy shot of olde Piccadilly Circus… but something about it (and the delightful synopsis on the back) excited me.  It might be trash – but it would be fun trash, at least.

Pleasantly, this isn’t trash.  On the contrary, this is a pretty fun start to a series I look forward to continuing.  Set in London (hence Piccadilly) during Queen Victoria’s reign, written by a woman who I think would probably be my best friend if we met in real life (Google Gail Carriger and read her bio.  Awesome.  I drink only imported British tea, too.  Let’s be friends, Gail!) and featuring werewolves, vampires, and ghosts with a unique twist: the idea is that these creatures are supernatural because they have an excess of ‘soul’ and that there are (like in Unbreakable) creatures on the flipside, with no ‘soul’, to balance them.  Hence the “soulless” of the title and of our main character, Alexia Tarrabotti.  Who, I have to say, sounds rather like she was inspired by my dear Christina Lepri.  This is obviously an impossibility, but for those of you who know Tina – read this book and tell me that Tina isn’t the perfect Alexia.  Go on, do it.

The plot is part romance, part mystery – and entirely hilarious.  Carriger does a neat trick with the narration where she’ll briefly dip into the thoughts of one individual (maintaining the third person) then flow seamlessly back out into third-person-omnipotent.  It was a bit jarring the first time or two but I rather liked it once I got used to it.  She also has a wonderfully droll sense of humor – the gay vampire, the flirting between Lord Maccon and Alexia, Floote the butler… it was all just that right kind of funny.  Also, Queen Victoria’s appearance at the end had me roaring with laughter. Seriously.

The book is fluff, I can’t say that it isn’t.  But its the good kind of fluff.  The kind of fluff that some call guilty pleasures… but I just call pleasures.

Rating: 4 out of 5.  Its not that there’s anything really to take away points – I thoroughly and completely enjoyed this book.  It wasn’t extraordinary in any way (though it did make me miss my London dearly…) and so that’s why it isn’t gifted with top ratings.  However, I’m getting up from this Starbucks and going to buy the second and third books in The Parasol Protectorate right now.  Seriously.  (Poor Water For Elephants – I think its just going to have to wait until November.  Which, granted, might be the best choice – it seems like a November-y book.)

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