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Character Interviews

Alexia and Lord Maccon from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Eva Forge from Tim Akers's The Horns of Ruin

Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Hounded


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HE SAID / SHE SAID REVIEW | Soulless by Gail Carriger (Orbit)

This review is the first He Said/She Said review written by my wife, Lore and me. Hopefully, we'll do more in the future.  When I came back with my haul from BEA Soulless by Gail Carriger immediately caught her eye. It is rare that she reads a fiction book let alone a fantasy book except for the occasional Gaiman or vampire related read, as she is much more of a non-fiction fan. I've been telling her about Steampunk for quite a while and this one seemed to fit the bill to initiate her into the fold.  She has since enjoyed Clockwork Heart as well.  Please note we did write these without reading the others' thoughts so some ground has been covered in both takes.

He Said:

Soulless is the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series, which is an enjoyable melding of Urban Fantasy, Romance, Humor, and a good helping of Steampunk. We are dropped into a world where the Supernatural has been engrained in society since the Renaissance when Vampires and Werewolves were made public. The premise comes from the idea that Supernatural creatures are long lived so that they have been affecting society for quite a long time. These Supernaturals are now afforded a certain level of class and accrued wealth because of the length of their lifetimes as happens with old money families.

The main character, Alexia, is what is known as a Soulless, who are quite rare. When she makes contact with beings of the Supernatural she negates their power as long as she is touching them, which is a nice twist. This sets up for a few somewhat silly scenes between her and a certain Werewolf. Alexia is considered a spinster at 25 and because of her half Italian origins has the wrong look for most English gentlemen.  Given these circumstances she dedicates much of her time to the study of the unusual using her deceased father's library and is afforded the chance to do things other proper women can or would not do such as befriending a Vampire.  Yet it seems she does have a suitor despite her self-deprecating tone.

There is nothing magical going on, as the author has opted to instead focus on the creatures and Steampunk technology, which appears aplenty towards the end.  Overall, Soulless flowed well, but the middle was a little slow with the romance aspect taking a bit too much time to cement itself.  There is plenty of action and witty dialogues along the way to things keep moving a pace. The dialogue and Alexia's own internal thoughts were the best aspect.  I thought the properness of it all would grain on me after a time, but the author interjects so much humor that she averts that chasm to the point where I looked forward to having things made more formal again to appreciate the jokes and situations. There is a wide cast of characters many of which I would have liked to learn more about.  With 2 more planned books I am sure some will end up better fleshed out.  I especially loved the inclusion of the waxed face man and his associated mythology.  It is one type of creature I think should get more used in Fantasy books, but is generally overlooked.

She Said:

Soulless leads you through English society where vampires and werewolves play leading roles. They coexist along with humans and have roles in the protection of the Queen and governing councils. All of a sudden supernaturals start going missing and strange stagecoaches start to roll through town – and strange is a big concept in a land where mortals and supernaturals mingle.

Alexia Tarabotti is the starring character that takes a little time to grow on you. Then again she is an opinionated spinster who exists without a soul, a preternatural as it were. Despite this she is intelligent and amusing enough to befriend humans, werewolves, and vampires alike. The latter being of sufficient interest since Alexia has the ability to wipe werewolves and vampires clean of their supernatural condition merely by a touch of the hand. She lives a guarded life sharing the fact that she is soulless with very few and only sparks interest in her character through her close involvement with the supernatural governing societies.

As a creature with dominating X chromosomes I did appreciate the strength of Alexia combined with her high fashion sense and silver tipped umbrella. I also enjoyed her use of personal time for self-education as opposed to searching endlessly for a mate in a society where this could change her status and lifestyle. Gail’s supporting characters were also well crafted. Both Professor Lyall and Flute prove to be characters that thrive on their service to main characters and have endearing qualities that make you wonder more about their back-stories.  I hadn’t read too much fiction as of late being more of a fan of non-fiction paranormal then fiction but Gail Carriger brought this story across in an interesting light. At points some of the story line felt predictable and just when I thought I knew how it would play out the author would send the story in a new direction and catch me off guard. Which is always a turn on that keeps me flipping the pages. Though the story intertwines with a hot romance from a budding female author there is enough action to make it an excellent read for either sex.

She Said:

I look forward to reading future books in this series and perhaps further books from Ms Carriger featuring some of my favorite supporting characters.  For the fashinistas and steampunkers out there check out the Victorian Paperdoll Dress-up Game that Orbit created.  I'd love to see more movies in the Steampunk genre and Soulless would definitely make for a good one.  The first chapter of Soulless is available in audio here.

He Said:

Some male readers might feel it has a bit too much romance, but there is a lot to like about Soulless.  The humor and mix of backstory for the world is wonderful with much to be revealed.  There is a good amount of scientific discussion about how Werewolves and Vampires are what they are and how the soulless concept fits in with them both.  The ending worked well even if it was a tad expected but still satisfying, however the epilogue sets things up for bigger adventures in the future as Alexia gets involved in a secret political position of sorts.  I give Soulless 8 out of 10 Hats. Given Carriger's acumen towards hats I think she'll appreciate this rating. Changeless, Book the Second, in the Parasol Protectorate series will be out in April 2010 and both of us are sure to check it out.

Book link: US Europe Canada

You Might Also Like:
So Much Steampunk, So Little Time
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
The Affinity Bridge by George Mann


Jess (The Cozy Reader) said...

Great reviews!

I reviewed it today on my blog as well!