Heartless: Witty frivolity and endless imagination

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsGail Carriger The Parasol Protectorate 4. HeartlessHeartless by Gail Carriger

Alexia is now largely pregnant and ready (though not overly willing) to enter into her confinement when an insane ghost appears and warns of a plot to assassinate the queen. As if that isn’t enough, the vampires have been repeatedly attempting to kill Alexia, or at least the infant inconvenience she carries (mechanical porcupines — what will they think of next), necessitating that Alexia and Conall move to London and come under the protection of Lord Akeldama who is wittier than ever before as he deals with the loss of his favorite drone, Buffy. And then Alexia’s half-sister decides to move in. And take up the cause of suffrage! What will people say?

Heartless is a welcome addition to Gail Carriger’s steampunk London. The Woolsey werewolf pack is at its best trying to anticipate the demands of their pregnant alpha female, Conall is beside himself trying to keep both Alexia and the unborn child safe while they face the call of duty, and old stories come to light as the threatened assassination attempt starts to look a lot like a previous assassination attempt that was made by Conall’s old pack.

This fourth book in The Parasol Protectorate series is a shining example of Carriger’s witty frivolity and endless imagination. Most series start becoming a little stale at this point, but Carriger manages to take all the things you already knew about her paranormal London and give them a big shake, and just like a snowglobe, as the pieces settle back into new patterns, they show an entirely different picture than you had known before.

With lots of action, lots of secrets revealed, and lots of Alexia waddling to and fro in search of the truth — and fires and zeppelins and vampires, oh my! — this book is a reward for all of Carriger’s fans. Everything you thought you knew has changed by the book’s end, and the ending promises that there will be many more adventures to come for Alexia and pack. I wait with pleasant anticipation for the next chapter in this witty and amusing saga.

The Parasol Protectorate — (2009-2014) Publisher: Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart? Soulless is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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One comment

  1. I kind of found them a little too frivolous. I shouldn’t say “them.” I only read the first and thought it fell apart at the end with the focus on the romance while there was so much obvious danger around. Maybe it’s me and if I were about to die, I’d be thinking about sex too, but somehow if I had an hour left to live, I might be trying to pick the lock or devise something clever…silly, probably when it’s so obviously hopeless. :>)

    Not a bad book, but I wasn’t enticed enough to pick up the second in the series. I’ve heard they get progressively better and better.

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