Author Gail Carriger
Soulless is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking. At the center, is the "parasol protectorate," Miss Alexia Tarabotti, a young woman who lacks not only a suitor but also a soul. And those are not her only problems: When she accidentally kills a vampire, it begins a series of events that she must set out to resolve without the help of any proper authorities. A charming mass market original
GEMS: An intelligent and cheeky parasol wielding spinster (26 years old) bucks the conventions of Victorian era in this creative steampunk tale about London's integration of supernaturals. The tension between lead characters develops through opposition of gender and natural powers. Like in species of nature, one is the great equalizer of the other. This is achieved through witty humor and playful, but intelligent banter. I loved the relationship between characters and was drawn to their individual personalities, embracing each fully. The setting and incorporation of sci-fi/fantasy including all the steampunk gadgets was just enough to allow me to picture, but not overwhelming in detail. Sometimes, authors in this particular genre have a tendency to get carried away with technical jargon and description -- for me, Carriger gave me enough to create my own mental setting without banging me over the head with cogs and steam. Interestingly, this story flows on two separate levels and I can understand why it would be added to the Read This Next book or nominated for book club discussions. On the surface, it flows as an easy read with humor, sexual tension, exciting characters and adventure. Below and woven within the details, action and banter twist together with sub-themes and present deeper questions relating to extermination, natural scientific balance of poisons and antidotes, world power, governmental control and regulation, gender roles and sexuality. For more discussion about sub-themes or if you'd like to comment, please jump over to the Read This Next group at Goodreads.
FLAWS: Some very interesting sub-themes are presented but are glazed over at what I thought were opportune moments. In my opinion, the comic and sexual tension relief were pushed to the forefront to lighten the situation for entertainment purposes, but I would have liked to have seen the seriousness developed more in these places and allowed to play out. I think it would have given even more depth to the story/plot and greatly enriched the literary significance of the story. I did not need several scenes to understand the animalistic attraction between the earl and Miss Tarabotti. I would have enjoyed other sub-thematic development to occur. I was a bit put off when a serious situation was interrupted by comic relief -- it seemed like poor timing. As the old saying goes, 'There is a time and a place for everything."