For week 33, I read Soulless, book one in The Parasol Protectorate, by Gail Carriger. This was about the time I joined the Vaginal Fantasy Group over on GoodReads.com, and you will see quite a few more of these coming up.
I’ve been thinking of a way to describe this book, which I found quite amusing in a specifically quirky way, and words like “steampunk,” “snarky,” “supernatural,” and “werewolf in a waistcoat” all come to mind. There are some clichéd elements of the Romance genre, such as the family that mistrusts/abuses/devalues/misunderstands the heroine, everyone tells the heroine that she’s plain (or her self-esteem is such that she thinks she’s unattractive, which makes her more attractive) but men fall all over themselves around her, the hero and the heroine can’t stand each other and bicker for the first half of the book, and the heroine is nearly always socially helpless or disgraced while the hero is rich and powerful and can save her from all that bother. Being steampunk, it is set in Victorian-esque times, and the social rules and expectations factor heavily into the characters and the plot. At the same time, Carriger pointedly mocks these clichés, and the narrative itself discreetly rolls its eyes at the excessive propriety required despite exigent circumstances, at the distinct double-standards and privilege that money and title afford. This made those clichés tolerable, and dampened my frustrations with such an unequal, but superficially orderly society.
The supernatural element almost seems smashed into the world described by Carriger. There are vampires, there are werewolves, and there are other peculiar things running about London that polite society prefers not to speak of at all. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people whose problems stem primarily from refusal to communicate, but it helps that there is a character or two in here who feels exactly the same way.
I gave it four stars. There are a number of other books in the series, but be careful about reading the descriptions of subsequent books, as they contain all kinds of spoilers. Lots and lots of unnecessary spoilers, I think. Jerks.