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Soulless (2009)

by Gail Carriger

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Parasol Protectorate (1), Parasol Universe (5)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,0644741,581 (3.9)732
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?… (more)
  1. 291
    Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (nessreader, lquilter)
    nessreader: The heroine of Soulless has a similar outlook to early Amelia Peabody (but I should warn that the Peabody series is cosy crime/romance, with no supernatural element while Soulless is gleeful fantasy) Both have strong willed on-the-shelf spinsters who are active protagonists in their story.… (more)
    lquilter: Without knowing, I'd imagine that Gail Carriger had read Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series (beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank) before writing Blameless (et seq). Similar era, similarly cranky and forthright spinster protagonist, similar sort of love affair, similar witty dialog and observations. The Amelia Peabody books are, of course, "straight" historical mystery, without the steampunk elements of Carriger's series, but I imagine that Carriger fans who read out-of-genre also will enjoy the Peters' series. Similarly, Peters fans who like SF, steampunk, or vampires/werewolves, might enjoy the Carriger series.… (more)
  2. 203
    Sorcery and Cecelia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede (kiesa)
    kiesa: Sorcery and Cecelia is a young adult novel but aspects of Soulless reminded me of it.
  3. 121
    To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (rhonna)
  4. 113
    Changeless by Gail Carriger (VampLibrarian)
  5. 51
    The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder (GirlMisanthrope)
  6. 40
    Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For Victorian heroines of inhuman nature.
  7. 20
    God Save the Queen by Kate Locke (binarydude)
  8. 31
    Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine (reconditereader)
  9. 20
    Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger (kgriffith)
  10. 20
    Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis (amysisson)
    amysisson: Although this book is YA while "Soulless" is more adult, they have a similar feel and wit.
  11. 20
    New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear (GirlMisanthrope, jlynno84)
    GirlMisanthrope: vampires and dirigibles, too. One of my favorites.
    jlynno84: Paranormal, steampunk with a mystery to solve
  12. 10
    Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (Luisali)
  13. 10
    Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George (al.vick)
  14. 10
    The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman (lazybee)
  15. 10
    The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (ablachly)
  16. 21
    Moonshine by Alaya Johnson (Mumugrrl, MyriadBooks)
    Mumugrrl: Both books are set in urban, alternative realities, with humans openly interacting with preternatural society. Both have great strong heroines.
  17. 10
    The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason (al.vick, al.vick)
  18. 10
    Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (caittilynn)
  19. 11
    These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker (LongDogMom)
  20. 11
    Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff (binarydude)

(see all 22 recommendations)

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» See also 732 mentions

English (468)  Hungarian (2)  French (1)  Piratical (1)  German (1)  All languages (473)
Showing 1-5 of 468 (next | show all)
Soulless
(Parasol Protectorate #1)
by Gail Carriger

I really enjoyed this book! I think everyone else has read it by now but me! I didn't realize it had vampires and werewolves in it or I would have read it sooner! I thought it was just a romance.
It's funny, has a good mystery, great characters, a fantasy, a romance, great world building, and very entertaining! I liked that she was strong willed, not perfect, but still just right!
Great story! ( )
  MontzaleeW | Jun 16, 2021 |
I'm on the search for new series and tried this one for a change. I found it okay but not great - enjoyable enough that I finished, but not enough to pick up the next. ( )
  duchessjlh | May 30, 2021 |
This was another one of my series-sampling audio listens, to see if I might want to pursue it in print someday. What I didn’t know at the time I started was that it’s a paranormal romance. Oops, well, it’s good to expand one’s horizons, I guess!

Audio Narration
The narrator is Emily Gray and I really liked her. Her British accent was perfect for a story set in Victorian-era London, and her manner of reading it added more humor to the story than I think I would have gotten out of it in print. There was an American character whom she voiced as if he were a robot but, other than that, I had no complaints. I think this was a rare case (for me) where the audiobook format enhanced the reading experience rather than detracting from it.

Story
As I mentioned above, the story is set in Victorian-era London. The supernatural are real, and are an integrated part of society. This includes vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, all of whom manage to become supernatural upon their death due to having a large amount of soul. On the other hand, there are rare preternatural people like our main character, Alexia, who are born without any soul at all. These people can neutralize supernatural powers.

Did I mention this was a paranormal romance? Here is a precise and carefully-measured break-down of the contents of this story:
* 60% romance, if you include the extensive amount of time in the early chapters where the characters pretend they dislike each other.
* 25% musings on fashion, manners, and meals.
* 15% plot.

This book is full of clichés. The enemies-to-lovers cliché. The only-female-in-all-of-Victorian-era-London-who-has-a-brain-and-a-spunky-attitude cliché. The highly-eligible-bachelor-who-is-(almost)-the-only-guy-in-the-vicinity-who-happens-to-like-spunky-girls-who-can-think cliché. The extended-erotic-scene-in-the-middle-of-imminent-danger cliché. And other things that I suspect were paranormal romance clichés, but I don’t have enough experience to say for sure.

But it was fun. Really, I enjoyed this quite a bit more than I would have expected if I’d known what I was getting into, and I suspect a lot of the credit goes to the audiobook narrator. The main character, Alexia, may by the stereotypical spunky-and-intelligent heroine, but she was fun. The other main characters were interesting and lively too. The story, what little there was of it, was interesting, and I enjoyed the setting. I haven’t read many urban fantasies where the general public are actually aware of the supernatural, so that was a nice change of pace versus all the time spent trying to cover things up or explain the "real" nature of the world to confused characters. I mainly got annoyed with the more extensive romantic scenes that seemed to go on forever, bringing the story to a screeching halt, and often in less-than-believable circumstances.

Nevertheless, even though I enjoyed it more than I would have expected, I probably won’t continue the series. If I ever do, it would likely only be in the audio format. I think most of my enjoyment came from this being an unexpected change of pace with a lot of humor, and I suspect I would soon get tired of it with much more exposure. (“Exposure” being a word you could interpret in multiple ways in this instance.) As seems to be my pattern lately, I’m rating this at 3.5 stars and rounding down to 3 on Goodreads. ( )
2 vote YouKneeK | May 21, 2021 |
This book was great fun, reading it was the perfect way to finish my Christmas holidays. ( )
  Clarissa_ | May 11, 2021 |
This was delightful and just the fluffy, light-hearted read I needed. This book made me laugh out loud several times.

Things I liked:

- The language and writing style. Without it, this would probably have been a pretty mediocre read, but the Victorian language and constantly applied manners are extremely entertaining.
- The heroine is an adult and knows who she is, which makes for a welcome change in this genre. She's also not conventionally beautiful.
- The whole 'science' of 'missing a soul', because Alexia does have traits you would usually associate with having a soul, for example emotions. It was nice to not have the universal truth dumped on you, but get an explanation that fits the setting of the book, which is Victorian scientists explaining something they don't quite understand.
- No problematic relationship stuff that's sold as romantic. HUGE PLUS! More so because the main love interest is an alpha werewolf, which usually leads to all kinds of (at best) cringe-worthy stuff. And although I don't care about the romance in urban fantasy novels, I found this one to be actually entertaining.
- The secondary characters! A lot of them are pretty one-dimensional, but it was still well done and I didn't expect more, so the amount of secondary characters who had more to them than met the eye actually surprised me. Of course I am a big fan of Lord Akeldama, as everyone. He's not the vampire we deserve, but the vampire we need.
- The worldbuilding. I liked the concept of the Vampire hives and the take on Werewolf romance that actually involves consent (shocking, I know!). And I enjoyed the explanations of how Vampires and Werewolfes have shaped the culture and current societal rules, it all fit very well and, in combination with the steampunkt elements, made for an enjoyable world which I am excited to learn more about in later books.
- The references to 'THE incident'(TM), because I just love that trope.

Things I didn't much care for:

- The sex scene. Well, I usually don't. I also have no problem with them, they just tend to make me cringe. But I understand people want to read a payoff to all the buildup, so I won't take any stars off for it.
- A lot of characters were, as I mentioned above, one-dimensional. But this is the first book in a series and so it can't focus on every character there is as much as they would deserve.

I will take one star off because the plot didn't get as much focus as it should have. It's good, and there are no massive logic bugs, but it doesn't reinvent the wheel and only really develops (and is resolved rather quickly) at the end of the book. I just wish a bit of the focus on language and romance would have been directed to the development of the story.

I hope to read more about the other characters and the world in the next books. ( )
  ImaginarySpace | May 3, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 468 (next | show all)
Carriger debuts brilliantly with a blend of Victorian romance, screwball comedy of manners and alternate history.
added by Shortride | editPublishers Weekly (Aug 24, 2009)
 

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gail Carrigerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Caballero, DerekPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eckwall, JensineIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gray, EmilyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karlin, LenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Panepinto, LaurenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ricci, DonnaCover modelsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Miss Alexia Tarabotti was not enjoying her evening.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

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?

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Alexia Tarabotti, a woman without a soul who is viewed as unable to marry, works with werewolf Lord Conall Maccon to clear her name after she accidently kills a vampire and is suspected of the disappearances of other undead members of high society.
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