Gail Carriger’s Soulless is technically the fourth book I’ve finished for my When Are You Reading? challenge but it’s the third review I’m posting for it. Soulless counts for my 1800-1899 slot in the challenge.
Soulless is a tale of London, steampunk, werewolves, and vampires. The spinster Alexia Tarabotti is soulless (meaning in this world that she has little to no appreciation for and understanding of art, music, emotions, etc. and that so long as she is touching a werewolf or a vampire, they are effectively a regular human being), half-Italian, and recently killed a vampire. Since werewolves and vampires are known to society at large, this last is a bigger deal than might otherwise be the case. Alexia and the local alpha werewolf, his assorted minions, and a vampire friend have to deal with missing werewolves, missing vampires, unexplained vampires, and an evil secret society – plus society in general.
Unlike in a lot of fiction, lycanthropy and vampirism are implied to be very similar states of being and both involve being much closer to death. Neither vampires nor werewolves are comfortable during daylight hours, although Alexia is comfortable during both day and night. Further, there are additional changes to vampire lore as to the turning of vampires. The addition of the soulless and the changes to the existing lore were clever and enjoyable, and helped explain why human society as a whole wasn’t fighting tooth and nail to get rid of the supernatural.
I have to confess that I haven’t read a lot of steampunk novels, so I have no idea if this novel is indicative of the genre or not. Either way, it was a rather quick read, although I can’t say whether that’s due to the pacing or the ease of reading.
Not knowing much about Victorian-era England, I also can’t say how accurate Carriger’s research was, but based on what I know it felt true to the time. I certainly didn’t feel jostled or that anything was out of context.
Ultimately, however, while the book was a nice quick read, I don’t think the series as a whole is for me. That is not a comment on the book but rather on my newly discovered anitpathy for steampunk and inability to connect with the characters.
If anyone out there has read the rest of the series, please tell me what you liked (or didn’t) about it!