Gail Carriger


Alexia Tarabotti: Soulless (2009), Changeless (2010), Blameless (2010)



Alexia Tarabotti


Soulless (2009)

soullessAlexia Tarabotti doesn’t have a soul.

This isn’t a particularly well known fact, since the only people who can recognize this are the supernatural–vampires, werewolves etc. But when she is attacked by a vampire at a ball, she is (quite willingly) drawn into an intrigue, against the wishes of Lord Macon (werewolf and head of the BUR) to whom Alexa finds herself attracted, against her better judgment (after all, she is a spinster).

This book was rollicking good fun. It’s an alternate Victorian England where supernatural creatures have come out of the closet and are regulated by the government via the Bureau of Unnatural Registry (which of course employs werewolves and vampires and ghosts).

The story is part supernatural fantasy, part alternate history, part steam punk, and part mystery. The characters were extremely entertaining, and I enjoyed the way that Alexia’s soulless state allowed her to act in ways that would normally never be considered by a Victorian spinster. The mystery was good, and held together very well, and the world building was excellent.

If you’re looking for something different to read, then I highly recommend checking out Soulless.
Rating: 8/10

Changeless (2010)

ChangelessWell, that was disappointing.

As I have mentioned repeatedly before, I really dislike cliffhanger endings. When I read a book, I like the story arc to end at the end of the book.

This doesn’t mean I dislike threads that carry from story to story–that’s fine. But what I do NOT like is when a book ends with the start to the next book. Oh yes, we’ve solved the mystery, however, here’s a HUGE NEW PROBLEM that is not going to be resolved until the next book.

Baloney. If you want me to read the next book in your series, then write so well that I want to spend more time with your characters. If you have a story that is too large for a single book, then you’d better have the sequel coming out much faster than your usual publishing cycle.

Essentially, I’m telling you to read to page 367, about 3/4 of the way down, and then read ABSOLUTELY NO FURTHER. The remainder of the book resolves NOTHING and only opens the story arc for the next book.

So. Aside from THAT how did I like the story? I quite enjoyed it! I like Alexia, and I love steampunk. I also love the way that vampires and werewolves are explained scientifically in this alternative history of the Victorian era. And although Alexia is not a proper Victorian woman, most of the other female characters around her are relatively properly Victorian (with the exception of Madame Lefoux, who is an inventor). And there is an explanation as to why Alexia is different, which is also important. (If you are going to have a character acting out of their class or time, you’d best have a good reason why. Of course the fact this is a steampunk alt history helps.)
Rating: 7/10

Blameless (2010)

BlamelessI loved Soulless, the first book in this series. I thought Changeless was good with the exclusion of the ending, which I despised, so I had mixed feelings about starting Blameless.

Alexia is pregnant, and Lord Maccon–who is a werewolf and an immortal–has thrown her out, believing that the child cannot possibly be his and she has been untrue to his. Thus Alexia must determine just how she has managed to get pregnant when it is common knowledge that werewolves cannot sire children.

Adding to the unpleasantness, once word is out the Alexia is pregnant, the vampires abandon all subtlety in their attempts to kill her. Even her stalwart friend Lord Akeldama who has offered her shelter has disappeared leaving her no place safe to hide.

All in all, I found Blameless disappointing. Most of the characters were flat, the bad guys were one dimensional, and there seemed to be a lack of logic in the way she was treated in Italy.

SPOILER (rot 13)

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Even Ivy seemed flat, more a caricature of herself. I have a hard time believing that she would have been quite as… enthusiastic… about her change in station as she was. Accepting I can believe, but she didn’t seem true to her character or a woman of her times.

It wasn’t a bad book, it was just soundly disappointing. So unless I hear things have changed significantly, I’ll most likely pass on the rest of this series.
Rating: 5/10