Timeless is the fifth and final book in Gail Carriger’s popular PARASOL PROTECTORATE series which takes place in a Victorian London where vampires and werewolves and other immortal paranormal creatures are integrated into society. Alexia Tarabotti, our spunky heroine, is a “preternatural” — she has the rare ability to cancel out the powers of other supernatural creatures when she touches them.
Over the course of the previous books, Alexia met, fell in love with, and married Lord Conal Maccon, an alpha werewolf. Their relationship is sometimes sexy and sometimes rocky. For example, he banished Alexia during her pregnancy because he thought he was sterile. Now the couple is back together and baby Prudence has entered their lives. Prudence is an enigma — she has some unique powers that nobody understands yet. Will she be some sort of abomination? Quite possibly.
I read the first three PARASOL PROTECTORATE books a couple of years ago. I thought they were original and amusing, but the conceit got tiring quickly. However, I have absolutely adored her FINISHING SCHOOL series for teens, which features some of the cast of PARASOL PROTECTORATE when they were younger. These are delightful and fun, and the audio versions read by Moira Quirk are some of the best audio productions I’ve ever heard. Now, Carriger is starting a new series called THE CUSTARD PROTOCOL and the first book is about Prudence, the daughter of Alexia Tarabotti and Lord Conal Maccon. I have it ready to listen to, but I wanted to read Timeless first, since it is about Prudence when she was a toddler.
In Timeless, Alexia is summoned to Egypt to appear before the Vampire Queen of the Alexandria hive. Accompanying her are her husband and little Prudence. As a cover, the Maccon family travels with Ivy Tunstell’s acting troupe. While in Egypt, there are questions asked and some of them are answered. Why and how is the Godbreaker Plague growing? What does the Vampire Queen want of Alexia? What is so special about Prudence? What did Alexia’s father do in Egypt? Meanwhile, back in London, there’s some major werewolf politics going on. A murder is committed and secrets are uncovered that will affect the pack, and Alexia’s marriage. Readers will get to learn a lot more about Professor Lyall. Felicity Loontwill, Sidheag Maccon, Madame Lefoux, and Biffy also have important roles. Oh, and Alexia desperately needs a new parasol!
Mostly I felt about Timeless the same way I felt about the previous books. The premise is great — werewolves and vampires in a proper Victorian society. It’s a comedy of manners, so most of the characters are eccentric, the plot is thin and often silly, and the dialogue is set up for laughs rather than realism. There is constant commentary about everyone’s dress, hair, and etiquette. A man could be falling out of a dirigible and still be concerned that his cravat is tied correctly. One of the most appealing characters, a flamboyant effeminate vampire named Lord Akeldama, calls everybody endearing little names like “My dearest sugardrop,” “my little marmalade pot,” “my rosehip,” “puffbonnet,” “puggle precious”… I could name 20 more. This is all quite entertaining for a while, but for me, a little goes a very long way and my enthusiasm began to wane much too soon. If the plot had been more interesting, or even just tighter, I would have enjoyed Timeless more.
Emily Gray does a superb job with the audio narration of the PARASOL PROTECTORATE series. Her voices, accents, and intonation are terrific. (However, even though this is an excellent performance, I still prefer Moira Quirk’s narration of the FINISHING SCHOOL series. As I said, it’s one of the best ever.) Timeless is 11.5 hours long on audio. I recommend this version.
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.
I agree — I love her concepts but I wish the stories were tighter.
I think it’s supposed to be “madcap” which means it’s okay if the plots aren’t tight, but it doesn’t quite get to “madcap,” so the plot needs to be tighter. I’d say Carriger DOES achieve exactly the right balance in the YA series.