Victorian Steampunk Werewolf Porn. Or Something Like That.

Soulless - Gail Carriger, Gail Carriger

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't something so much fun.

 

Vampire hives. Ghost spies. Werewolves dealing with the social ramifications of transforming and being naked. Steampunk devices. Souls and the overabundance or scarcity thereof. Secret societies. Snark. Smut. This book had it all--and some things I was not expecting.

 

Alexia is fantastic. She is snarky and sarcastic and does not take nonsense from anyone. I enjoyed her genuine interest in science and the paranormal science so prevalent in this society. She isn't always the kindest of individuals, but she generally limits her harassment to those who deserve a bit of heckling.

 

Generally.

 

I wouldn't want to be her friend, but I like reading about her adventures.

 

I have never seen the idea of souls used the way it was here. It was intriguing that they could be measured the way they were, and that a lack or excess of soul could end up meaning so much in the paranormal world. I am nerdy enough to want to make a study of this fictitious explanation of things, and I'm grateful that Alexia probably is, too, and so I will likely get to learn more about things as the series goes on.

 

Professor Lupin Lyell was quite a charming gentleman and probably my favorite character. Watching him attempt (and manage!) to retain his poise in progressively stranger circumstances was an absolute joy. I rather wish he had been the love interest, although given this is the first in a series I am hoping to see him settle down with a lovely werewolf lady of his own in time. Besides which, Alexia would probably be the death of him--she strikes me as difficult to handle.

 

Lord Maccon was a bit pushy and deserved every bit of trouble Alexia gave him, but they strike me as an amusing match and I enjoyed watching them interact. I get the idea that there is some backstory there to explore with him, so I am looking forward to seeing how that develops over the course of the series. Even if he is a werewolf.

 

Little moments like this explanation of a common vampire myth:

 

"Alexia tried to explain that the vampire's supposed inability to enter private residences uninvited was a myth based on their collective obsession with proper social etiquette, but her mother refused to believe her."

 

were a delight. I love off-handed comments about the development of myths. It is as though the author realized what objections were likely to be raised and has quietly taken them into account during the world-building process. I grin every time.

 

The vampires in this series were pretty fantastic. Lord Akeldama was my second-favorite character. The moment

at the end where they watch the sunset together

(show spoiler)

was genuinely touching. I'd like to hear more about the whole hive organization at some point. The fact that vampires are apparently matriarchal was intriguing.

 

 

This reads very much like a paranormal Amelia Peabody series. You have mysteries and extremely over-the-top Victorian characters and a romantic relationship that seems to be based, quite happily, on a whole lot of shouting.  There is admittedly a lot more sex than I've ever seen in those novels (or, to be more precise, a lot more explicit sex), which surprised me quite a bit when it first started turning up, but works fine in the context of things.

 

This is not a novel to take terribly seriously. It is clearly supposed to be fun and flippant and full of charm and wit and it manages to fulfill that brilliantly. I can't wait to pick up the rest of the series and see where it goes from here. I'll just leave you with this:

"Am I?" 

"Are you what?" She peeked up at him through her tangled hair, pretending confusion. There was no possible way she was going to make this easy for him.

"Your love?"

"Well, you are a werewolf, Scottish, naked, and covered in blood, and I am still holding your hand."