Friday, January 2, 2015

Series Spotlight: Parasol Protectorate

Series Spotlight:

Parasol Protectorate

Welcome to a new feature here at Pages of Starlight. There's always those books that you meant to review, the books that you read before you started reviewing, or maybe you reviewed one of the books but it wasn't even the first one. Well, here's my answer to that: Series Spotlight. I'll be reviewing an entire series, and just generally talk about it. So, for this first edition, I wanted to make it something special. A series that I really like, but also one that is popular enough that it could spark some conversations - whether or not you've read it. Based on that criteria alone, it seems obvious to me what series I should use.

The Parasol Protectorate
By Gail Carriger

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?

Soulless was my first introduction to the written world of steampunk and I honestly couldn't have asked for a better first foray. I'd like to say that this book is more romance than steampunk, but the romance is kind of not romantic. Alexia is a realist, she's coolly logical at all times (or, nearly all times). Conall, her werewolf love interest, is assuredly not the sort to offer calm strolls through the park and poetic phrases. In fact, the usually proper way of courting is thrown out the window with these two. There's lust and companionship here aplenty, and I don't mind trading sappy romance for that.

Honestly, beyond all the bodice-ripper homage and the steampunk aesthetic, I think this series would be most at home on a urban fantasy shelf. I know that after I got over the whole 'eww, romance' reaction (what can I say, it was at that time of my life) I started viewing this series as popcorn reads: lighthearted, fun, a smattering of romance and my much coveted steampunk. (And I was practically dancing because the love interest wasn't a vampire.)

I think how much you will like this book depends on how well you can turn your brain off (something I've never had a problem with ;)) and how you like the writing style. For example:

'The vampire's eyes were open, and he was staring at her intently. It was as though he were trying to speak to her with simply the power of a glare.
Alexia did not speak glare-ish.'

'"Goodness gracious me," exclaimed Alexia, "what are you wearing? It looks like the unfortunate progeny of an illicit union between a pair of binoculars and some opera glasses. What on earth are they called, binocticals, spectoculars?"'

'With a resigned shrug, she screamed and collapsed into a faint. She stayed resolutely fainted, despite the liberal application of smelling salts, which made her eyes water most tremendously, a cramp in the back of one knee, and the fact that her new ball gown was getting most awfully wrinkled.'

If, like me, these quotes make you snort with laughter or giggle, I recommend you find yourself a preview of this book immediately. If you are slightly amused by them, check out the book at your leisure. If they annoy you, you are best off staying far away from this series.

If you're interested, be sure to check out the amazing Ms. Carriger's website, here.

If you've read the series, what did you think of it? Only read a couple of the books? I'd still love to know your thoughts.