Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Reviewed by Sara

Back in 2009, when I was reading mostly Paranormal Romance, I came across Soulless by Gail Carriger. It had werewolves and vampires, golems and ghosts all set in Victorian England. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the story wasn’t written like a Paranormal-Historical, but was actually this really cool subgenre I hadn’t ever read before, Steampunk. Steampunk, at least the way Carriger writes it, takes a time period like Victorian England and through intense world building and the addition of steam powered technology creates a fantastical, but still familiar alternate history.

In Soulless, supernatural creatures are out to the public, but governed by a strict set of rules and social mores, which is why it’s completely unseemly when our heroine, Alexa Tarabotti, is attacked at a ball by an unregistered vampire. This would be bad enough on it’s own, but Alexa is a social misfit and this attack just adds to her list of faults in the eyes of her peers. Alexa is tall, half-Italian, heavier set and a preternatural, her touch undoes the supernatural elements of the person she’s touching. To make matters even worse, her attack puts her on the radar of Lord Maccon the gorgeous, growly werewolf and head of the paranormal population’s police service.

Alexa and Lord Macon discover a devious plot involving unregistered new paranormals and missing, older paranormals, all run by a secret society of high society scientists. The deeper they dig the more dangers they face and the more obvious a connection between the secret society’s goals and Alexa’s preternatural abilities become. Can these two opposites solve the mystery and handle the growing attraction between them, while making sure to save time for tea?

I loved Soulless and it remains a favorite book today. Everything from the cover art to the characters are a win for me. Gail Carriger creates this fantastic world that is at once familiar, but also full of fantasy. She marries the grittiness of Victorian England with it’s swirling miasmas and class disparity with the whimsy of ornate, steam powered machines, fancy dresses and paranormal happenings. Soulless was originally touted by publishers as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Jane Austen”, but I’ve always felt like it’s a bit more like Mary Poppins with less singing and more werewolves – delightful and dark.

Soulless should definitely be on the shelves of anyone that loves Steampunk, but is also a great pick for readers who love the Paranormal and Historical subgenres of Romance. (Especially if you enjoy the opposites attract trope.) Gail Carriger builds a dark and whimsical world where all manner of supernaturals coexist with their mundane counterparts all while not missing a single element of British culture in the Victorian era.

If you’re interested in reading something a little outside of the norm with great world building and excellent characters, I highly recommend Soulless by Gail Carriger.

Rating: A+

Click to purchase: Amazon

Soulless
by Gail Carriger
Release Date: October 1, 2009
Publisher: Orbit

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