Published: April 1st, 2010 by Orbit
Format: Audio book, narrated by Emily Gray
Genre: Steampunk, paranormal
Age group: Adult
Grade rate: A-
Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria. But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.
She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.
The Parasol Protectorate is quite possible the best adult series that I follow. It falls in a category on its own, being a combination of steampunk-paranormal-mystery-romance.
I read Soulless, book one of the series a while ago (see my Goodreads review here); I’m not sure why it took me so long to keep reading, but I intend to rectify my mistake and get caught up. Wow! How I missed Alexia’s world! It is absolutely amazing. It takes place in Victorian London where supernatural beings, such as werewolves, vampires and ghosts, are accepted into society. In addition to that, it’s a world of scientific progress and advancement, while maintaining some of the strict views of the society of that time (namely attire and class).
Besides the wonderful characters (I’ll get to that in a second), and setting, there are two other outstanding aspects of this book (and the series): the plot and the writing. The plot of Changeless is surprising, ingenious and altogether amazing. It’s full of twists and turns, of flying machines, armed parasols, poison, and even mummies! I wish I could find the right words to describe it all. The book is called Changeless, because there is something preventing the werewolves from ‘changing’ and turning them human.
The writing is another wonder. Honestly, I don’t know how Ms. Carriger is able to create such an amazing world, characters, plot and do it all with such a quirky sense of irony and practicality. It’s pure awesomeness. At this point you might be asking why isn’t my review an A+; well because the ending had me gasping out loud in my car (remember I was listening to the book). I was so mad I wanted to do something on behalf of Alexia :(
Note about the audio book: One of the best ones ever!!! The voices, the inflection, oh my! I can hear them in my head now when I read the books. Yep, is that good :)
Lastly, I come to the characters. By now you know what I’m going to say, right? They were awesome! Besides some of the characters from Soulless, we are introduced to a few new ones, such as Madam LeFoux and her family, and Lord Maccon’s old pack in Scotland. We also get to see more of the characters introduced in Soulless, like Ivy Hisselpenny, and Felicity (Alexia’s sister), Lord Akeldama, Professor Lyal and Biffy. Alexia is such a jewel; her preternatural state, her marriage to Lord Maccon and her appointment as Muhjah, turns to be the perfect recipe for disaster. She is one of my favorite characters, and she can probably share that honor with a lot of other characters from this series!
Some quotes for you:
“Ah, Lady Maccon, how lovely. I did wonder when you would track us down.”
“I was unavoidably delayed by husbands and Ivys,” explained Alexia.
“These things, regrettably, are bound to occur when one is married and befriended.”
“She reached inside the wide ruffle and pulled out a little vial.
“Poison?” asked Lady Maccon, tilting her head to one side.
“Certainly not. Something far more important: perfume. We cannot very well have you fighting crime unscented, now, can we?”
“Oh.” Alexia nodded gravely. After all, Madame Lefoux was French. “Certainly not.”
“Ivy waved her wet handkerchief, as much as to say 'words cannot possibly articulate my profound distress'.
Then, because Ivy never settled for meaningful gestures when verbal embellishments could compound the effect, she said, "Words cannot possibly articulate my profound distress.”
About the cover: This is the picture of Steampunk awesomeness! This is Alexia with her unique way of dressing and a dirigible in the background. Stunning.
Have you read these series? Do you like steampunk?