Soulless by Gail Carriger is a steampunk, romance, detective novel with vampires and werewolves. Now wait, don’t go all “I hate sparkly vampires” on me. Within the first chapter (nearly the first page), the main character Alexia Tarabotti, smacks a vampire in the gonads with a brass parasol.
This book is a huge mixture of genres but Gail Carriger deftly navigates them all with wit and sarcasm. Alexia is a smart mouth spinster (at the ripe old age of 25) who is a ‘preternatural’ which is the opposite of supernatural. Her touch undoes the supernatural powers of the vampires and werewolves. The head of the Bureau of Unnatural Registry (BUR) is Lord Maccon, a werewolf. Alexia is the bane of his existence since she always seems to end up at the scene of crimes.
The use of an anti-power provides a nice twist to the usual trappings of the vampire/werewolf genre. It means Alexia isn’t a damsel in distress or obsessed with getting bitten by either side to become one of them. She also isn’t a little waif of a thing. Carriger goes out of her way to describe her as a woman who enjoys her food and has a full figure. After so many years of the Twilight Waifs, it was a nice change.
The story follows Alexia as she (and Lord Maccon) investigate rogue vampires appearing (unregistered) in London and causing trouble and the disappearance of loner werewolves. Lord Maccon, ever the gentleman, doesn’t want Alexia involved, but why the hell would that stop her?
I could not put this book down. I read it in day and was laughing out loud at least once a chapter. The mystery and romance is pretty predictable, but the narration and characters make it such a fun read. I wanted to get right to my sewing machine and make a bustle dress.
Best part? This is book one of five, so I’ve got more to look forward to! Hope they arrive soon.
Gail Carriger has a fun blog here.
She’s also going to have a manga version of the book published soon. Keep a look out!