Thursday, August 12, 2010

Book Review: Soulless, by Gail Carriger

Delicious Anachronism

Hello all!

Yes, my wisdom teeth are still bothering me, and yes I am still medicated. You have been warned!

But happy news today! I just read a wonderful new book!

The book itself isn't new, but it's new to me. I randomly picked up the second in the series in BAM, and was so intrigued I located the first book, and bought both of them immediately. 

The book is called Soulless by Gail Carriger

It's a wonderful alternate urban fantasy/Steampunk novel with a strong romance subplot. I finished it all in one day, if that tells you anything.

It's set in Victorian England, in a world where supernatural creatures are not only known about, they work with the Queen of England. Alexia Tarabotti is spinster of good breeding who is "soulless", and therefore able to negate the abilities of supernatural people/creatures when she touches them. It starts when a rouge vampire tries to kill her at a ball, and events spiral out of control from there. Highlights include a comedy of manners, and Alexia's gay vampire best friend, Lord Akeldama. I think he's my favorite actually, and calls her all sorts of funny pet names like, "my dove" and "my squash blossom".

The book is written in a wonderfully light, slightly sarcastic British tone, and from omniscient viewpoint, which works very well despite my initial trepidation. I laughed out loud several times, and couldn't put the book down. Honestly, I have been looking for a book just like this for a while, and am so happy to have actually found it. Ms. Carringer has several sub-genres going in the book; I was really impressed with how well she blended the various elements without it feeling forced.

I really enjoy steampunk, but some novels feel like the main thing going for it is the setting, the book virtually screaming, "Lookit me! I am steampunk and that's why you're reading me! LOOK AT MY DIRIGIBLES!"

"Soulless" manages to not only steer away from this plague, but to also make the steampunk elements work in a logical way in the setting. Even if romance-alternate histories don't seem like they would be up your alley, you might consider reading the book for no other reason that to look at how well Ms. Carriger blends the various pieces of her setting and plot so seamlessly. Ms. Carriger also characterizes very well, with every character feeling living and breathing to me. 

In all, there's really nothing I would say needs to be better. The pacing moves along swiftly, the plots events fresh and original, and the characters realistic and funny. I am half way through the second book in the series, Changeless, and the quality is just as good, so "Soulless" was no one hit wonder. 

Gail Carriger has a third book in the series coming out August 31st called Blameless, which fills me with so much joy I can barely contain myself. 

In short, this book was a breath of fresh air, especially since my own WIP has developed some decidedly steampunk elements. It was wonderful to find a fresh new take on elements of my genre that I have become very familiar with. I would use this book as an "icebreaker" to ease people into fantasy. 

But don't just take my word for it, go check out the series for yourselves! Who doesn't need to read an awesome new book? 

I would love to have this on my wall!
 (thank you Wikicommons for the pictures!)


  1. Wow, its sop interesting that this book is written from the omniscient pov! I don't find that nowadays very often. In fact, I've stopped writing in that pov altogether.

    Thanks for the great review!

    Sorry to hear about your wisdom teeth. Mine came in and I never had them out. Too afraid to because I use my mouth to play the flute.

  2. Oooooohh I didn't even consider that Aubrie! Probably a good call on your part. I wouldn't bother with mine if they weren't impacted.

    I just finished the second one, Changeless, and the plot is thickening! Very good reads so I had to share!

  3. All four of my wisdom teeth came in and were there for years. Then they started to disintegrate and I had to have them out.

    It's dangerous to leave them in. If a dentist ever tells you they need to come out (other than, "it wouldn't hurt" which is just their way to make money), get them out as soon as possible. Mine got popped out and I walked home. If I had waited, they would have had to break my jaw to get them out and that would have sucked.