The Parasol Protectorate Series (#1-3)
Author: Gail Carriger
UK Publisher: Orbit
Genre: Steampunk, Paranormal Romance
When she accidentally kills a vampire, Alexia Tarabotti becomes embroiled in the mystery of disappearing werewolves and vampires. Her lack of a soul, which can neutralise supernatural powers, makes her a natural enemy of supernaturals, but now she must get to the bottom of the mystery before she disappears too.
The first thing I noticed about the story and its characters was its similarities to Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' - the main character, headstrong Alexi Tarabotti; her silly sisters and sillier mother; and the gruff but eligible love interest, Lord Maccon. I couldn’t help but like the snarky Alexia, who is determined and stubborn and on occasion very un-ladylike, and enjoyed the interplay between her and Lord Maccon.
Garriger’s comedic wit drew me in and the plot kept me guessing what would happen next. The supernatural theme has been given a new twist with Alexia's preternatural 'condition', a counter to the supernatural state, touching lightly on the issue of what the ‘soul’ is. I really enjoyed the Victorian setting and its lashings of steampunk features – who could not like the carriages, old fashioned rules to courting young men, and of course, the dresses!
Having married Lord Maccon and become protector/investigator for the Crown, Alexia is taken to Scotland in her attempt to solve why werewolves in Lord Maccon’s pack are no longer able to shape shift. It seems however that someone is intent upon keeping Alexia from reaching Scotland and solving the mystery, and Alexia must discover who it is before it’s too late.
On the journey to Scotland, we are introduced to the mysterious character, Madame LeFoux, whose eccentricities I adore (including her wearing of men's clothes, and attractions towards Alexia). With attempts being made to kill Alexia, those around her including her best friend Ivy Hisselpenny and Madame LeFoux, become subject to suspicion.
Once again, Carriger finishes with a great plot twist at the end, and the witty dialogue continues throughout, however at some points the story lacked a certain depth. Effeminate vampires and friends with deplorable hats added humour, but not necessarily any sustenance.
Having been falsely accused of certain indiscretions by her husband and publicly shunned, Alexia decides to visit to Europe the birthplace of her father and learn more about the Preternatural condition. Being hunted by vampires, the journey with Madame LeFoux, and Floote, turns into a race towards the apparent safety of the templars, who also have an interest in preternaturals. And in Alexia.
Being fond of Professor Lyall, the werewolf second in command, as well as Madame LeFoux and Floote, I was pleased that they all featured more in this book. Professor Lyall and Floote both add a sensible yet humourous element to the snarky stubbornness that surrounds both Alexia and Lord Maccon, whilst Madame LeFoux smoulders with an adventurous sex appeal. Lord Maccon’s reaction and treatment of Aleixa is rather disappointing, as he doesn’t stand beside her in a time of need, but rejects her. It will take a lot to feel their relationship is back on track.
Blameless was full of action, intrigue, as well as Carriger’s usual wit. Mystery surrounds the Templars, and what their interest in Preternaturals might mean. Hints that were dropped in Changeless come to fruition at the start of Blameless, and promise an interesting development in the understanding of supernatural conditions as well as a possible new addition to the Maccon family.
Overall, I really enjoyed the series as light-hearted and humorous: the characters are interesting, the dialogue is witty, the plot lines keep you guessing, and there’s a big dollop of steampunk thrown in to boot!