Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It's a big enough umbrella

Alexia Tarabotti, heroine of Soulless, is not your typical English rose. Cursed with Mediterranean skin like her Italian father, an ample figure, a large appetite and... er...nose, she is resigned to spinsterhood.

Miss Tarabotti goes to a ball and is chagrined to find that there is nothing to eat but watercress! Really, how cheap can a host be? Never one to suffer, Alexia orders a treacle tart in the library, where to her irritation she is interrupted by an ill-mannered and ill-informed vampire. He is not properly introduced when he attempts to dine on Miss Tarabotti; nor is he conversant with her special talent.

Miss Tarabotti, in a world of normal people and supernatural people (those who have excess soul), is unique: she has no soul at all. When she touches a supernatural, they become normal.

In her attempt to discourage this ignoramus with her trusty umbrella, Miss Tarbotti accidentally kills him. She is soon enmeshed in a mystery of unknown proportions. Hive Queens, mad scientists, disappearing vampires, rogue vampires, werewolves, and that paragon of imperial power herself, Queen Victoria, all whirl in a merry-go-round of plot twists and surprises.

This first novel by Gail Carriger was a delight to read. Soulless is a wild combination of comedy of manners, paranormal romance, alternative history, urban fantasy, and steampunk. I loved the comic tone of this book. With all the ponderous, ominous paranormal novels out there, this one stood out for sheer fun!