Soulless by Gail Carriger – Book Review

Soulless by Gail Carriger
Published by Orbit Books, an imprint of Hachette

This is the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series.

Being a soulless, half-Italian spinster doesn’t exactly put Alexa Tarabotti at the top of the height of the Victorian social scene. Basically ignored and disdained by her mother and flouffy half sisters (think Cinderella’s evil stepsisters, but too stupid to be truly evil). Even though she isn’t exactly sought after, she still is not used to being attacked by vampires at dinner parties. A normal vampire would know better than to attack someone who is soulless, since the soulless negate the powers of the over-soulled paranormal creatures like vampires and werewolves. Next thing Alexa knows, she is working with the Lord Maccon to discover what is happening to the plethora of missing werewolves and vampires, as well as the strange new creatures which have been wandering around London.

Soulless is a highly entertaining, quite funny paranormal steampunk romance:

Her mama thought her a bluestocking, which was soulless enough as far as Mrs. Loontwill was concerned, and was terribly upset by her eldest daughter’s propensity for libraries. – p. 17

If the description of ‘paranormal steampunk romance’ makes it sound like Soulless suffers from an excess of genres, that may in fact be the case, but Carriger pulls all of them off quite well, neither taking them too seriously nor making them too ridiculous. Alexa Tarabotti is a strong-willed young woman who makes for a fantastic protagonist, but perhaps even more interesting than Alexa was Carriger’s alternate Victorian era, which was molded quite well from the world with which we are familiar:

Miss Tarabotti shook her head in sorrow. The narrowmindedness of it all! She knew her history. The puritans left Queen Elizabeth’s England for the New World because the queen sanctioned the supernatural presence in the British Isle. The Colonies had been entirely backward ever since: religious fingers in all their dealings with vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. It made America into a deeply superstitious place. Fates only knew what they’d think of someone like her! -p. 102

All in all it makes for a very enjoyable romp of a read. I definitely plan on continuing in this series.

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Source: Personal copy.
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16 comments to Soulless by Gail Carriger – Book Review

  • I’m quite enjoying this series. I’m glad you are too.

  • I loved this book but was slightly less enchanted by the second one. I’ve got the fourth waiting to be read — here’s hoping it’s as good as this one!

  • I am loving this series – the fourth book is on its way to me right now, and I can’t wait!

  • “Carriger pulls all of them off quite well, neither taking them too seriously nor making them too ridiculous”

    Exactly why I liked this one. I have the next two somewhere around here, I really need to get to them.

  • I just finished this book a couple of days ago. I thought it was lighthearted and fun. Laugh out loud funny, even. I have the second and third books here, checked out from the library, and I’m quite excited about reading them.

  • I have borrowed this a few times now from the library but ended up returning them unread. I am determined that this time I am actually going to read it!

  • I really enjoyed this book, but still haven’t read on in the series! I miss the days of standalones. It gets overwhelming with all the series out there…

    • All the different series everywhere can DEFINITELY get overwhelming. Have you checked out I love it to help me keep track of what series I’m reading.

      • I started, but like everything else failed to keep up with it! I need to get organized and see about some series that have been stalled forever…

    • I suppose I have to agree with you on that! I hadn’t really thought about series seeming overwhelming. It’s almost like you feel obligated to continue on since you started. There’s nothing wrong with an open-ended standalone! You can imagine for yourself what happens next. But, maybe in this economy, the authors and publishers want to agree on a multiple-book deal so they both get more money?

      What do you feel about the series that could practically be standalones? For instance, I read Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation books. I call it a series because they are all similar, but when I think about it, they’re not really a series. You don’t have to read one before another and there’s not really anything that you have to know before reading one. So it’s really a “series” of standalones…

      • Well, the modern storyline in that stores is more of a continuation.

      • My big problem with series is how it isn’t always clearly marked it is the first book in a series. There have been a couple times this year where I have read a book only to find out it is the first book in a trilogy/series. Before blogging I was really bad with picking up a book that looked interesting and then finding out it was like book 5 in a series. The first time I bought a Kelley Armstrong book it was like that… There was nothing on the book saying where it fell in the series… Maybe not even anything saying it was a series.

  • Great review – I’m going to put that on my list at the library. And I’ll have to check out the fictfact website – I get overwhelmed with keeping up with all the series I’m reading too!

  • I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this one! This is one of my favorite series and I just can’t get enough of Alexia and her adventures :)

  • The first three titles in The Parasol Protectorate are bundled together as one eBook title and as such, I consumed them over my vacation! I thought of them as being affectionate pastiches of the genres you mentioned. They reminded me of The Amelia Peabody series which likewise features a strong female protagonist and is imitative (of H. Rider Haggard.) I thought SOULLESS (#1) was entertaining; but CHANGELESS (#2,) with its surprise ending was my favorite of the three and it had me grabbing BLAMESLESS (#3) immediately afterwards! These are great light reads and I can’t wait to dnload HEARTLESS. I’m actually thinking of going to audio for that one as I’ve heard great things about the narrator, Emily Grey, a new-to-me-narrator :-)

  • I actually just finished reading the 4th Parasol Protectorate book about a week ago. I really enjoy the series and I’m glad to see you are also starting it and enjoying it. I hope you like the rest of the books just as much. I know the ending of the 2nd book made me go out and immediately buy the 3rd. But I didn’t like the ending of the 3rd. But just that little bit of not-liking wasn’t enough to keep me from the 4th. I can’t wait for the final installment!

    If you’re interested, here are my review posts of Soulless, Changeless, Blameless and Heartless: