Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Guilty Pleasure: A review of Heartless, by Gail Carriger

I am in need of another category of reviews, for today I finished a book that I greatly enjoyed, but does not fall into the realm of school library material.  A school librarian cannot always restrict herself to books for a younger audience, and needs to indulge in a little guilty pleasure now and then.  Thus, I bring you the first installment of "Guilty Pleasures," with Gail Carriger's fourth Parasol Protectorate novel, Heartless.

Synopsis: Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is back for a fourth adventure in the supernatural/steampunk series, the Parasol Protectorate.  This time, she must investigate and hopefully stop a threat to the queen, while dealing with a suffragette sister, zombie porcupines, a werewolf pup who cannot grasp his new life, and much more, including being eight months pregnant.

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars (4.5 really, but there aren't half-stars there)

This book could almost be considered for my "Yay for YA" reviews.  My local public library does in fact shelve the series in the teen/YA section.  Frankly, though, there's just too much bodice-ripping in the first novel in the saga for it to be in a school library.

That said, I adore this series!  It is incredibly witty, in a proper Victorian British manner.  And it is appropriately witty too, perfectly capable of being serious in tone as needed.  The humor in the descriptions are probably the biggest attraction the Parasol Protectorate offers.  I often find myself tittering over some passage or other as I indulge in these tomes.

The mythology of the supernatural/preternatural beings is great.  Ms. Carriger put a lot of effort into planning what exactly vampires, werewolves, and ghosts are in her world, as well as that special being called a preternatural that the heroine Alexia Maccon, nee Tarabotti, is.  To sum it up, vampires and werewolves are undead creatures that had enough excess of soul to survive the transformation upon death.  Ghosts are the spirits of the deceased who also had an excess of soul, and whose bodies are reasonably preserved (or newly dead).  Preternatural beings are born, on the other hand, and are soulless.  Alexia, like her father before her, is apparently nature's way of balancing out the supernatural - at her touch, vampires and werewolves are made human and ghosts are exorcised.

This well-concocted mythology is a deep spring, flowing with potential plot lines for the series.  And the depths are plumbed with fantastic results, ranging from little side-plots with clavigers and drones (werewolf and vampire servants, respectively, who wish to be eventually changed) to the running metaplot of what happens when a preternatural and a werewolf marry.  It may be a bit of a series spoiler to have already mentioned the fact that our heroine is eight months pregnant in this book, but believe me, there's a lot of drama surrounding that little "infant-inconvenience" than just impeding movement.

The characters are enjoyable and well-rounded.  In this fourth book, we learn more about several characters who had previously been minor, including Alexia's half-sister Felicity - who is quite not the blonde airhead Alexia thought she grew up with.  I enjoyed learning more about the indefatigable butler, Floote, and the werewolf pack's Beta, Professor Lyall.

This episode of the life of Alexia (Tarabotti) Maccon is my favorite!  There is so much going on, with ample doses of mystery, intrigue, action scenes, and tea-drinking.  A couple little points seemed far too nicely tied up, but otherwise it was a wonderful yarn.

Now if only the covers matched the books!  The backdrops are lovely, but the damsel as pictured above is obviously not eight months pregnant and in possession of a healthy appetite.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear the series is still going strong. :)