The combination of Victorian manners and the more "radical" attitudes of characters like Alexia and Lord Akeldama make for a perfect mix of humor and adventure in The Parasol Protectorate series. This second installment is just as entertaining as the first and has wit for days. A plague of humanization has infected the supernaturals of London, and Alexia, as the Queen's employed preternatural, is doing everything she can to solve the mystery of who or what is behind it. When her husband disappears, she knows exactly where to go to find him- but a woman flying on a dirigible all alone? The scandal! Victorian manners and the insistence of her mother land her with an annoying sister and an air-headed best friend to accompany her to meet with the werewolves of Scotland- hence the quote from the scandalized Ivy Hisselpenny upon seeing kilted men. Also in her flying group is a beautiful woman inventor from France with a penchant for wearing men's clothing who seems to have a few secrets of her own.
Alexia is probably my favorite female character since Hermione. She's very much her own woman, but she's also very much a Victorian Londoner which makes for very entertaining inner dialogue. She's got more sass than anyone in her time can handle and she's not afraid of anything or anyone.
Alexia's relationship with her werewolf husband is adorable and also pretty hot. They're both hardheaded and full of sass and do that sort of thing where they're always annoyed with one another but at the same time can't keep their hands off each other. They're the only couple that pulls it off, to be honest- in reality or in fiction.
I love the world that Gail Carriger has created. She did a truly wonderful job of tweaking what we already know about 1800's London into an alternate reality where the government works with vampires and werewolves to keep the peace. It's very believable, and for this sort of fantasy story that's very important to me. I think it's interesting that Gail chose to make Alexia's best friend a gay vampire and that this new woman she meets is a lesbian. I think Gail does a really good job of showing realistically (for the most part) how a very forward thinking person like Alexia would look at homosexuality at this time period, and how others would as well.
I don't want to give anything away but the ending was a total surprise! I can't even tell you why or how or what without spoiling it but it just left me like "WTF!?"
Anywho, if you have any interest at all in steampunk, or werewolves (vampires exist too but so far have been more of side characters), if you love witty writing, and if you're looking for a creative new world to get lost in, you HAVE to start this series!
Here are a couple of passages that I thought reflected the quirkiness and writing style fairly well- it was actually really hard to find quotes and stuff that wouldn't give anything away or that would make sense out of context.
(Alexia dealing with a creepy dickhead)
"Are you philandering with me, sir?" She was imprudently startled into asking.
"Would you like me to be?" he replied, grin widening.
Well, that certainly settled that. This was no gentleman.
"Uh-oh," said Tunstell very softly, backing away slightly.
"What a nauseating thought," said Lady Maccon.
"Oh I don't know," said Major Channing, moving in closer "a fiery Italian thing like you, with a nice figure and not too old, might have a few lively nights left. I always did fancy a bit of the foreign."
Alexia, who was only half Italian, and that only by birth, having been raised English to the bone, could not decide which part of that sentence had offended her most. She sputtered.
The repulsive Channing person looked like he might actually try to touch her.
Alexia hauled off and hit him, hard, with her parasol, right on top of his head.
Everyone in the courtyard stopped what they were about and turned to look at the statuesque lady currently engaged in whacking their third in command, Woolsey Pack Gamma, commander of the Coldsteam Guards abroad, with a parasol.
The major's eyes shifted to an even icier blue and black about the rim of each iris, and two of his perfect white teeth turned pointed.
Werewolf was he? Well, Alexia Maccon's parasol was tipped with silver for a reason. She walloped him again, this time making certain the tip touched his skin. At the same time, she rediscovered her powers of speech.
"How dare you! You impudent" --whack-- "arrogant" --whack-- "overbearing" --whack-- unobservant dog!" Whack, whack. Normally Alexia wasn't given to such language or unadulterated violence, but circumstances seemed to warrant it.
Alexia disembarked... she spearheaded a parade of bustle-swaying ladies, like so many fabric snails, onto firm (well, truthfully, rather squishy) land...The snails were followed by Tunstell, laden with a quantity of hatboxes and other package; four stewards with various trunks; and Lady Maccon's French maid.
(I just thought that was the most perfect description of those ridiculous Victorian dresses with the big bums, they really do look like snails!)
"Efficient female, aren't you, Lady Maccon?"
Alexia was not certain whether she should be pleased or offended by the statement, so she chose to ignore it.
"How does one determine one's own state of enamorment?"
Lady Maccon snickered. "I am hardly one to elucidate. It took me ages to realize I had feelings for Conall beyond abhorrence, and quite frankly, I am still not certain that feeling does not persist unto this very moment."
Ivy was taken aback. "Surely you jest?"
Alexia cast her mind back to the last time she had engaged in a protracted encounter with her husband. There had been a good deal of moaning at the time, if memory served. "Well, he has his uses."
Thanks for reading!!
It's the first book I've finished in 2016 and I'm quite happy this was it (that is, as long as the second book I finish is Blameless). Look what you've done, Gail Carriger, I am in quite a state.
"Ivy waved the wet handkerchief, as much as to say, words cannot possibly articulate my profound distress. Then, because Ivy never settled for meaningful gestures when verbal embellishments could compound the effect, she said, "Words cannot possibly articulate my profound distress."
Alexia is vexed after her werewolf husband runs off to Scotland in pursuit of an urgent matter without telling her. So she does what's entirely not expected of her and goes after him. In a manner quite unexpected, she rides in a dirigible to Scotland with her sister, Felicity, her best friend, Ivy, her handmaiden, Angelique, and the claviger, Tunstell. Unbeknownst to her, the intriguing & possibly untrustworthy Madame Lefoux. The journey to Scotland becomes quite dangerous when Alexia's life is put at risk. More than once. Alexia could only get into more trouble once she reached ground, but with her trusty parasol in hand, she just may be able to handle it.
As soon as I was done reading Soulless, I knew I needed to pick up Changeless as soon as I could. And I do mean immediately. I considered some sort of evil that the end of the first book contained a bit from the first chapter of the next. How conniving.
Naturally, I trekked to my nearest bookseller and hoped to find this installment. With luck, I was able to buy this & the 3rd book and was compelled to buy the 4th & 5th since they only had one copy of each. I resisted buying the others, however. My heart & soul protested but my wallet breathed a sigh of relief.
“She reached inside the wide ruffle and pulled out a little vial.
“Poison?” asked Lady Maccon, tilting her head to one side.
“Certainly not. Something far more important: perfume. We cannot very well have you fighting crime unscented, now, can we?”
“Oh.” Alexia nodded gravely. After all, Madame Lefoux was French. “Certainly not.”
Alexia is back and witty as ever. And what doesn't kill her, is making her stronger. Literally.
Ivy is as oblivious as ever and perfect for it. I loved reading about the journey on the dirigible. They're fascinating.
Scotland! Oh my Scotland, my favorite land. How I love that this story took place there. Though I would have killed for some more description of the castle/ scenery. This book is just as ridiculous as the first, just in a different country and I loved it just as much.
“Alexia,” she hissed to her friend, “there are knees positively everywhere. What do I do?”
These books are a breath of fresh air and have forever endeared me to Gail Carriger's writing.
Oh, my lordy. That ending. I can't. I'm so mad at that last perfect page! I need the next book ASAP. Of course, I should pace myself but I really don't want to do that.
Excuse me while I binge-read Blameless and ignore all other responsibilities.
2nd book in the Parasol Protectorate series and it was even more fun than the first one! We meet a bunch of new friends and learn more about Conall's background and indeed more about the workings of a werewolf pack.
Rollicking. :) That's how I would describe this tale. I find myself laughing aloud, especially at Alexia's inner dialogue. I love her dry humour and her business-like manner. One thing that the author does is imbue her characters with a sense of humour - all of the characters. That just brings them alive to me. I didn't see enough of my favourite secondary characters though... Akeldama and Lyall. Maybe in the next volume. :)
The book ends with quite the cliffhanger so now I have to decide if I break my rule of not binge-reading series. Decisions, decisions, decisions.... ;)