Pros: Great humor, some of the best secondary characters I’ve seen in a long time, unique story and world.
Cons: Having to wait for the next book!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Alexia is a spinster with no soul; her touch can neutralize supernatural powers. This makes her unique in London society, where vampires and werewolves are an accepted part of Society. So when a vampire accosts her in a library, she is shocked at the breach of etiquette and when she kills him in self-defense Lord Maccon, werewolf and Queen Victoria’s supernatural investigator, begins an investigation. Vampires and werewolves are disappearing, and both Alexia and Lord Macon wish to get to the bottom of it. Moving through the world of supernatural politics and structure, will Alexia be able to stay a step ahead of those who seem to be after her? And why is Lord Maccon taking such an interest in her safety?
I have to say, I’ve been drooling over this book for a while, saving it so I could savor it. I have a weakness for wry British humor, and Soulless certainly doesn’t disappoint. There were times where I was laughing out loud because Ms. Carriger is not afraid to point out some of the more ludicrous elements of Victorian England. By blending elements of romance, mystery, adventure, alternate history, and steampunk, she creates a world so unique that I just wanted to stay lost in it. Misty found the perfect words to explain why I loved this book so much: “Soulless is exactly what I wanted and didn’t get from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Soulless is genre blending done perfectly; the elements of each flow seamlessly into each other. I am in awe at her talent.
Not only Alexia and Lord Maccon, but all of the secondary characters feel genuine and rounded. Alexia’s family feels like they belong in the Victorian era, with their shopping, matchmaking, and occasional hysterics. I fell in love with Ivy Hisselpenny, Alexia’s friend and owner of some very hideous hats. Despite her dreadful taste in accessories, she is a good friend and source of comfort. Professor Lyall, Lord Maccon’s Beta, is also a fascinating man. He gently steers Lord Maccon through social niceties and love woes; I’m curious to see what happens to him as the series develops. The only characters that aren’t well explained are those causing havoc, but I am fairly certain that we will learn more about them as the series progresses. (And what’s with all the octopuses? I want to know!)
The London that Alexia inhabits is just fascinating. Almack’s and dirigibles, matchmaking and noble werewolves and vampires. England has risen to greatness through the help of supernatural advisers, and technology is advancing at a fascinating rate. The way that the steampunk elements were woven so easily into the story amazed me. This was my first steampunk book, and I’ve been missing out! Even the details of clothing, food, and etiquette pull you deeper into the action. I could almost taste the food, and actually had to get up and grab a snack after scrumptious descriptions of ribs and chicken.
The voice that the story is told in just adds to the Victorian feel. I can definitely see the influences of Jane Austen, and I adore it. The humor, at times gentle and other times sarcastic, made me love Alexia. She’s certainly not afraid to tell it like it is, and her wit and intelligence are some of the things that Lord Macon finds most attractive about her. At the same time though, one gets the feeling that none of the characters take themselves too seriously. I could feel the love that Ms. Carriger has lavished on her world and her characters, and it made me love them all the more.
Soulless is absolutely wonderful; it’s a feel good novel with a little something for almost everyone. Ms. Carriger’s skillful management of plot, genres, and characters create an enjoyable, fun, addictive read. If you’re looking for wit and social commentary à la Jane Austen, you must read this book. Go out and read it! This book is just phenomenal, and definitely should not be missed.