books

Gail Carriger aka G. L. Carriger

Books

Parasol Protectorate: Soulless (2009), Changeless (2010), Blameless (2010), Heartless (2011)

Claw & Courtship: How to Marry a Werewolf (2018)

San Andreas Shifters: Marine Biology (2010), The Sumage Solution (2017), The Omega Objection (2018), The Enforcer Enigma (2020)


Parasol Protectorate

 

Soulless (2009)

SoullessSet in alternate London in Queen Victoria’s reign.

Supernatural creatures, especially vampires and werewolves, are influential members of British society, although in the united states they are seen as monsters to barely tolerated, of not outright destroyed.

Supernatural creatures, be they vampires, werewolves, or ghosts, owed their existence to an overabundance of soul, an excess that refused to die.

Alexia Tarabotti is a completely different kind of supernatural, a preternatural.

(S)oullessness always neutralized supernatural abilities.

Since Alexia is a spinster (being half-Italian and outspoken) she tries to enjoy her small freedoms.

Mrs. Loontwill had not even bothered with the expenditure of a come-out or a proper season for her eldest daughter. “Really, darling,” Alexia’s mother had said at the time in tones of the deepest condescension, “with that nose and that skin, there is simply no point in us going to the expense. I have got your sisters to think of.”

But everything is thrown into confusing when London’s alpha werewolf, Lord Maccon, seems to become involved with Alexia.

I’d read this when it came out, and then got made at events in a later book and stopped reading it, but decided to give it another chances, since I know about the annoying events going in.

On this re-read, I think I like the Beta, Professor Lyall, best.

Lord Maccon stood up very straight. He would have towered over his second even if Lyall were not sitting down. “I am not a groveler!”

“It is possible to learn many new and interesting skills in one lifetime,” advised Professor Lyall, unimpressed by the posturing.

Followed closely by Lord Akeldama.

Several bottles of champagne were usually required to get Lord Akeldama to talk of it at all. Still, it meant, by Alexia’s calculations, that he was at least over four hundred years old.

Overall, the story was fine. I do love the world-building, even if I prefer many of the secondary characters. I’ve borrowed the second book from the library to read, so we’ll see how I feel about that.

Publisher : Orbit
Rating: 8/10

Re-Read: February 2021
Rating: 7.5/10

Changeless (2010)

ChangelessSet in alternate England and Scotland in the 1873

I read this when it was published, and the only thing I remembered was the ending, and how extraordinarily angry it made me.

So angry, I didn’t read another book by Gail Carriger for years.

Alexia is now married to Lord Maccon, and fitting in surprisingly well with his pack.

Alexia’s father’s ancestors had once conquered an empire, and it was when Lady Maccon yelled that people realized how that was accomplished.

As with the previous book Lord Akeldama remains my favorite.

Lord Akeldama puffed out his cheeks. He did not like open acknowledgment that his collection of apparently decorative and inconsequential drones, possessed of high family connection and little evident sense, were in fact consummate spies.

Because Alexia travels, but events continue to happen in her absence, the POV does switch between Alexia and various people in London.

Was I still angry upon the reread?

Yup.

But at least I knew what to expect, and so immediately started on the third book. I’m still angry with both the content of the ending, and the addition of that cliffhanger to the end of the book.

Publisher : Orbit
Rating: 7/10

Re-Read: February 2021
Rating: 6/10

Blameless (2010)

BlamelessSet in England in the alternate 1873

As the end of the previous book still made me angry, even knowing what was coming, I immediately started reading this book, to see how I felt about the resolution of the issues from the second book.

It was… okay.

First problem, we get almost no Lord Akeldama, who remains my favorite.

Usually, any major social event in London could be relied upon to temporarily house some young dandy whose collar points were too high, mannerisms too elegant, and interest too keen to adequately complement his otherwise frivolous appearance. These ubiquitous young men, regardless of how silly they might act, how much gambling they might engage in, and how much fine champagne they might swill, reported back to their master with such an immense amount of information as to put any of Her Majesty’s espionage operations to shame.

Second, we get to see Lord Maccon being an idiot in response to the events in the previous book that HE set in motion.

Third, I really truly don’t see why Alexia had to go to Italy, except plot. And why Floote refused to explain to her the dangers of doing so. Because Floote should have recognized the possibilities of what might occur of the Templars got their hands on Alexia.

Heaven forbid he actually tell her things she needs to know for her safety.

On the plus side, we got to spend lots of time with Professor Lyall, who I may like almost as much as Lord Akeldama.

Professor Lyall had a good memory, and he recalled the cholera outbreak of twenty years earlier as though it had happened only yesterday. Sometimes he thought he could still smell the sickness in the air. As a result, Soho always caused him to sneeze.

So, disappointing, but I’m going to read on to find out what happens next.

Luckily, this book is also available from the library.

Publisher : Orbit
Rating: 6.5/10

Re-Read: February 2021
Rating: 6.5/10

Heartless (2011)

HeartlessSet in Alternate London in 1874

OK. Fine. Whatever. I finished it.

Alexia is about to have her baby any minute now, and the vampires are still trying to kill her. So the solution everyone comes up with: the baby with be adopted by Lord Akeldama. And Alexia and Conall will live in his closet.

A gleam entered the vampire’s eyes, and he brushed his blond hair flirtatiously off his neck. “I suppose your pack must spend a good deal of time underdressed?”

The earl rolled his eyes, but Professor Lyall was not above a little bribery. “Or not dressed at all.”

Lord Akeldama nodded in pleasure. “Oh, my darling boys are going to love this new arrangement.

Whatever.

Really? That’s the best solution?

My (biggest) problem is that everything was a series of terrible decisions, one after another.

I did get Lord Akeldama and Professor Lyall, and even Biffy, but that didn’t save the story from all the absolutely terrible decisions a hugely pregnant Alexia made.

And those terrible decisions were too many to list.

And then we’ll just allow DESTROYED BUILDINGS and FIRES in London with no worry or concern.

What? No. You don’t randomly set off pyrotechnics on a 19th century city and the saunter away as if that wasn’t going to DESTROY THE ENTIRE CITY. What on earth?

Ugh.

Publisher : Orbit
Rating: 4.5/10

Claw & Courtship

 

How to Marry a Werewolf (2018)

How to Marry a WerewolfSet in alternate London in 1896

Faith Wigglesworth is being sent to England to marry a werewolf.

They must be desperate to be rid of me, she thought, to be considering werewolves. Or Mother hates werewolves so much, she would use me to punish them.

Major Channing is grumpy and anti-social–even for a werewolf. He was turned in battle, and still sometimes has trouble controlling his wolf.

He followed his nose and found a pork pie. On it was pinned a note that read, For tomorrow’s supper, absolutely not to be eaten. This means you, Major! He cut himself a generous slice and sneered at the note.

I had be planning to reread something until someone reviewed this and mentioned that Channing wooed Faith–with rocks.

I immediately needed to read it.

Sadly, there wasn’t that much geology. Lots of society events and dressmaking and hats.

And some dreadful parents.

Your mother wishes you to succeed here, does she not?”

Faith said, simply, “My mother wishes me to marry a werewolf and never go back to Boston. Is that your definition of success?”

Teddy was suddenly sharper and less carefree. “Is it yours?”

“I’m not convinced of the efficaciousness of werewolves, but I’ll admit that never returning to Boston has its appeal.”

Luckily, Faith is sent to distant cousins who are actually lovely people, and so she gets to feel cared for, and be happy.

It’s a light and silly story–a pleasant escape.

Publisher : GAIL CARRIGER LLC
Rating: 7/10


San Andreas Shifters

Marine Biology (2010)

Marine BiologyThis is a short story featuring werewolves and merpeople and selkies.

Alec is a marine biologist and hides as much of himself as he can from his pack. Because they definitely won’t appreciate that he’s gay.

But when a crush from high school shows up, needing Alec’s pack’s help, perhaps it’s time for Alec to finally become himself.

There is a lot of flirting and a good deal of silliness here.

Marvin petted Alec’s arm as though Alec were some skittish animal. “So here I am, a marine mammal, and I’ve got biology. I was thinking I might work my way onto your sample chart.”

If you’ve read the Parasol Protectorate, the werewolves here are pretty much the opposite of the werewolves there–uncouth and narrow-minded bikers.

It’s not a bad short story. Having read the following stories, however, I feel like there is so much world-building missing here.

Publisher : GAIL CARRIGER LLC
Rating: 6.5/10

The Sumage Solution (2017)

The Sumage SolutionMax is a sumage and, as far as his father was concerned, a complete failure. Instead of being a Surge, he’s a Placer, and instead of continuing the family line, he’s gay. So now he works for DURPS and lives in a small cottage.

Biff moved with his brother and their pack from the east coast to San Francisco, in the hopes their new pack can find acceptance in a city known for its gay community. But most people don’t want a werewolf pack in their area, and so the pack is currently staying at the home of a drag queen while they attempt to establish their pack and find work.

Betas weren’t made for battle, everyone knew that. Didn’t matter what kind of shifter, it wasn’t their role to fight or enforce but to fix and repair.

Biff ends up in Max’s office as part of the registration process, and soon a date is lined up.

The werewolf gave him a pained expression. “Do I come off as a bottom?”

Max sputtered. “Uh, do you even know what that means?”

“I’ll have you know that I too have access to the internet.”

As much as I enjoyed this story, I also had problems with it.

First, my personal issue was that the first part of the book was mostly sex / getting to sex / talking about sex. Which is fine, but it’s not my thing. So that reduced my enjoyment.

Second-and more importantly–I had major issues with the world building, in that almost nothing was explained, and that got annoying quickly. Quintessence, Plugs, Pinchers, Siphons, Sluices, sumages, Super Saturation. The meaning of some of those terms can be inferred, but much of it can’t, and it got old quickly. It’s one thing if one of the characters doesn’t know how things works and has to work it out. It’s something else if all the characters are aware of the terminology and we’re left wondering what the hell they’re talking about.

The mages didn’t help. The place reeked of coolant and ozone and melted rubber. Worse, sumages, all of them. There was the Plug at the door and the other Plug guarding the entrance to the inner sanctum, and more than a few Pinchers behind the counter. He’d never seen so many sumages in one place.

Biff didn’t like any kind of civic mage, the working ones or the sumage failures.

If she didn’t want to explain things (which I understand) then why on earth not put a glossary of terms in the book?

The story got much better in the second half of the book–it wasn’t 100% about boinking for one thing–and we get more into what is really happening in the world and in their lives and the issues the two have. But there was still a lot of world building that was never explained or was confusing, which was just aggravating.

I’ll read the next book, but I do wish this story had been more than it was.

Publisher : GAIL CARRIGER LLC
Rating: 7/10

The Omega Objection (2018)

The Omega ObjectionTank came east with the rest of what eventually eventually came to be the San Andreas Pack. Although he’s big enough to be an enforcer, he’s truly submissive and doesn’t like to fight, even if he does a lot of work as security.

Isaac has been on the run since he was a teenager. He came to San Francisco because there weren’t supposed to be any wold packs there (what with SF being all but a gay capital and wolves being the equivalent of homophobic supernatural trailer trash). But he’s made friends here, and isn’t quite ready to flee when he discovers there is a pack in town.

Even if that pack is very different from every other pack in the country.

They’d special dispensation from the park service to cull the local deer population on full moon. Afterward they always did a spit roast. It was Marvin’s idea to get the community invested in having a pack through food and socialization. (Marvin was a merman with a head for marketing.) At first, just Max’s ex-co-workers from DURPS showed up, which included Gladdy, but once the kitsune spread the word it basically became a thing.

There were a couple of things I especially liked, including the friendships between the various characters.

Judd said, “Look, we all have mistakes in our pasts, even Tank the Paladin.”

Tank slobbered on his foot.

Judd wiped his foot on Tank’s furry stomach and continued.

One thing that did grate on my nerves a bit was just how campy Marvin was. It felt like he was never ever off, even when he was hope, which seemed a bit excessive (even if he did live with the werewolf pack).

On the plus side, the magic and such were much less confusing this time, although there were still a lot of terms that didn’t quite make sense.

So, it was fun (even if there was, again, a lot of boinking).

Publisher : GAIL CARRIGER LLC
Rating: 7.5/10

The Enforcer Enigma (2020)

The Enforcer EnigmaWhen Colin’s brother returned from college, to find him completely withdrawn, Kevin decided they would both join the new pack moving out to San Francisco where Colin could be himself without fear of retribution.

Judd has been a werewolf since before the Saturation. He may have been born free, but that did mean his life as a Black man–and a gay man–has been an easy one. Especially in a culture as homophobic as werewolf culture. But from the minute he laid eyes on Colin, Judd wanted him for his mate–even if he was certain he didn’t deserve such a beautiful young man.

What did I like about this story? I liked both Colin and Judd, as well as Trick (the shifter who works at the coffee shop) and Floyd, the old man who hangs out at the coffee shop.

Against the side wall sat dour old Floyd who liked to knit, and blessedly never tried to make small talk. (Colin supposed he could nick the man’s knitting needles and stab the selkie with them, only that’d get blood on the guy’s knitting, which was probably rude.)

What I found problematic was first and foremost, making any sense of the story line surrounding Trick. Why did the selkie mobsters know who he was if no one else did? How did they connect Trick to his family at all, if Trick was living unregistered?

Second, I really really wanted to learn more about Saturation and what on earth happened to the world, and Judd was old enough to have lived it. But we not only did we get nothing about this world changing event, Judd really didn’t feel like someone who was 150 years old.

And if this world is supposed to have paralleled ours, I’m not sure that spending time in Canada would have saved Judd from the racism of that century and a half off living. I’m not saying he should have been bitter or angry, just that he didn’t feel as aware of the world around him–and how he fit into it–as someone who would have had to watch his back for so long. Watched how he fit into the world and how other people saw him. And Judd as too self-aware a character for me to believe he didn’t know these things.

Perhaps that world wasn’t as racist as ours is, but if there was slavery, it seems unlikely Judd wouldn’t have dealt with overt racism. But instead we just get a brief passage about how he’s tired of dealing with how other people deal with racism. Which is important and I was delighted to see him telling people he wasn’t responsible for helping them unpack their own baggage.

He just didn’t read to me like someone who had spent most of his life being seen as a threat. And any man who is more than six feet tall and solid muscle is going to be perceived as a threat at many points in their life, all other characteristics being equal (which in this case they were not).

To be clear, I don’t think Judd should have been damaged by his past, or needed to deal with it. Only that he didn’t feel like the man he was described as being–someone who had been alive for 150 years and probably spent much of that time being either looked down upon or seen as a threat.

I didn’t need him to be broken in any way, I just needed him to feel not oblivious to how he fit into the world.

I feel like I’m explaining this terribly. I suppose the short of it goes back to my first statement, that Judd did not feel at all like a man who had lived through the kind of world he would have moved through for so long.

We had long chapters and paragraphs about how Colin saw himself as fitting into the world, and how he tried to make himself smaller, more invisible.

Colin wasn’t good at making people feel welcome, so he did the next best thing and provided quiet reassurance from afar.

It just felt weird that Judd would be completely lacking in any of that same awareness.

Publisher : GAIL CARRIGER LLC
Rating: 7.5/10