This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

08 December, 2011


Cover design: Lauren Panepinto
Cover photograph: Pixie Vision Productions
Cover model: Donna Ricci


 ISBN: 978-0-315-12719-6
Pages: 374
Publisher: Orbit
Publishing date: June 28 2011

SPOILER WARNING! If you haven't read the
three previous books, this will contain spoilers.

On the cover:

Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it's too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf's clothing? And what exactly has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama's second best closet?

   In this forth installment of The Parasol Protectorate series we get a slightly different story than in the previous books. Nothing radically different, but there is a bit more sleuthing on Alexia's part than in the other books. Which is only natural when you consider her condition. But of course we are talking about Alexia Tarabotti here, so she doesn't exactly sit still knitting while she waits for the baby to come.

   The novel opens with a nice set-up and a good refresher of previous events and it isn't long before we get introduced to the central mystery of the book. I won't say to much about the mystery, but it is an interesting one. And Miss Carriger uses it to give us information of events happening in the past.
   This is one of the great strengths of the novel., there is an almost constant trickle of backstory here. It really helps flesh out the world Alexia inhabits, and gives it a history that makes it feel more real than it could otherwise have been. A credit to Miss Carriger's writing is that some of the revelations from the past took me completely by surprise.

   There is a certain domesticity to parts of this story. This is because of Alexia's pregnancy, but it also brings the series firmly back to the London setting it started with in book one. Alexia and Connall's new living quarters certainly add to the story, this could easily have become boring but Miss Carriger manages to make it both fun and interesting.

   As with the history of the world of Alexia I mentioned above, there is also quite a bit of lore being revealed in this book. We learn more about all three supernatural classes, vampires, werewolves and ghosts. Again this strengthened the story for me, I like it that what is in essence a fantasy world has a history that makes it come alive.
   I must add that Miss Carriger manages to give us all the backstory and lore without it feeling infodumpy [If that wasn't a word before, it is now.] , it all flows naturally in the narrative and I don't think anyone will feel it is distracting or takes you out of the story.

   The story is fast paced throughout, even when there is not really any physical action Miss Carriger manages to makes the pages fly by with her excellent writing style. I have already mentioned the central mystery, it has some surprising revelations for the reader, at least it caught me off guard several times.
   There are also some action scenes in this book that would probably make Michael Bay wet his pants if he got hold of them. The action is by no means over the top, but it is really nice to see Miss Carriger take it to the level it is on here.

   As with the previous books in the series, I really enjoyed this one. Miss Carriger writes very good action-adventure, and her lighter style of storytelling is a nice break from all the "gloom and doom" we find in fantasy these days.
   If you like steampunk or urban fantasy, The Parasol Protectorate series is really a must-read; it is also a good starting point if you are curious as to what these genres is about. And if you have followed the series so far, this installment will certainly not be a disappointment. Miss Carriger has added another great installment in the saga of Alexia Tarabotti.

Reviews: Soulless  Changeless  Blameless

Links: Gail Carriger  Orbit

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