Monday, September 19, 2011

Dirigibles and Multi-Use Parasols: My Review of "Changeless" by Gail Carriger

Her two cravat pins were in place, one wood, one silver.
Changeless, Gail Carriger 

Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

                Alexia Maccon, nee Tarabotti , is at it again!
                In this, the second installment of the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger, she is comfortable in her role as Lady Woolsey, the wife of the 200-year old werewolf lord, and Alpha Female of a pack of mostly male werewolves and clavigers. She has adapted to a night-schedule, and is also enjoying her time as the muhjah – the Soulless edition to the Shadow Council for Queen Victoria. But of course, things are never calm with Alexia.

                She wakes up one night to her Husband yelling at a ghost and then taking off … to Scotland. So, Alexia, armed with new and expensive parasol, her husband’s claviger, her middle sister, best friend and a new acquaintance … follow him.

                By dirigible.

                This is a great follow up to the first edition of the series – Soulless. Where the first was more romance then mystery, this one is the reverse, with Lord and Lady Maccon alternating between honeymoon and old-married states, and new problems arising that culminate in a cliffhanger of an ending that drives me about mad!

                What I liked about this book was the travelling to Scotland – I think it gave the characters more of a journey-feel, with Alexia as their torchbearer and all the secrets that circled around them. I also loved the addition of ghosts – though mentioned before, this time we got to meet a few. It is rather a shame that they are not represented on the Shadow Council (though I suppose they can’t be as they are so tethered to their bodies) but I look forward to more ghosts!

                In fact, the general expansion of the Protectorate universe is thrilling in itself: I can't wait to see what other creatures will pop out of the woodwork and how they will react to this totally Victorian proper English setting. 

                I think it will be thrilling due to one nigglet of interest mentioned but not compeletly overtaken in this book: The Godbreaker curse. Oh yes, dear Readers, there seems to be a hitch to the Supernatural. And I cannot wait until I get to really see that complication in action!

                The introduction of Madame Lefoux was interesting and fun – I liked her descriptions, her attitude and the secrecy of everything she does – including her allusions to trysts with women, and her view of machinery as much more important than humanity. I read on Gail’s blog a while back that Maame Lefoux was meant to be a love interest at first, but that it felt forced, and I can understand why – Alexia is loyal to the end (a lack of soul?) but as a confidant and an alternative, I like Madame Lefoux – she represents the uncharacteristic woman – the one who is not afraid to be herself, in a way that is completely different and yet complimentary to Alexia’s own radical individualism.

                I also expect that, given the cliffhanger and the way that Madame Lefoux has an ability to take charge of situations, that we will not only see more of her in upcoming books, but that she will be more complex and exciting as time goes forward.

                I also liked the more steampunk elements of this book – the dirigible, the lab under the hat shop, etc. I think that this is a unique series that should flaunt itself as such, and part of that process is delving deeply into the steampunk background of it all.

                All in all, this was a wonderful book with a terrible cliffhanger of an ending that I will get to resolve for myself in the next few days (thank Goddess the Boy bought me all 3 when I asked for Soulless!)

Up next for Review: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

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