In this charming sequel to Soulless, Gail Carriger brings us back to the world of Alexia Tarabotti, who now happens to be Lady Maccon. When a mysterious occurrence in London leaves vampires without fangs and werewolves incapable of shifting forms, Alexia springs into action, determined to find the source of this dangerous power. Whether or not her husband approves, she gathers her allies, rides a dirigible, is the target of assassins, and has to confront the (possibly eternal) side effects of her soullessness.
Changeless is a much more tightly focused story than the first book in The Parasol Protectorate was. The supporting cast of characters has already been established, which means less time is spent creating the setting and more time is spent on the action — and this story has a surplus of action. There is so much action that it keeps the characters from communicating with each other, which leads to a few misunderstandings. Alexia is still a wonderfully headstrong woman, and watching her morph from eccentric bluestocking into alpha female (in multiple ways) is an interesting development.
Not quite a comedy of manners, this story does flirt with farce at times, though the comedic notes that so richly dominated the first story are more of an accessory in this tale. The plot of Changeless is not quite as innovative as Soulless, though it does serve to flesh out the world — especially the role of werewolves in spreading the British Empire (which is an original take on the success of the British military and regimental order). Additionally, the exploration of contemporary technology provides a special depth to the setting. And, we learn a smidgen more about the mysterious octopus symbol from book one…
Just like Soulless, Changeless is a light entertaining read that would be right at home in many a beach bag or airplane carryon. Changeless falls more towards the paranormal side of the paranormal romance genre than Soulless did, but the last chapter of the book sets up a cliffhanger for the Alexia-Connall relationship that will leave the reader breathlessly waiting for the next book in The Parasol Protectorate. I would recommend Changeless to readers of paranormal romance, steampunk, or lighthearted fantasy.
Another silly romp in Carriger’s paranormal Victorian world. These aren’t working for me quite as well as they did for Ruth (above) — enough of the plot and dialogue is unlikely enough that it feels manufactured for laughs and quirkiness. I’m having trouble getting beyond that, but readers who are more willing to go along with the premise will surely enjoy it more. I think Carriger gets all these elements just right in herFINISHING SCHOOL series (below).
~ Kat Hooper