TBR Challenge Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Format: ebook (also available on audio and mass market paperback)
Pub Date: 2009
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 384
FTC: Purchased myself


I am a sucky TBR Challenge participant. This makes the third month in a row I've procrastinated on my challenge read. Although it's the first time I've actually MISSED the posting day. Apologies for my suckiness.

Anyhoo, this month's topic was paranormal or romantic suspense.  I finally managed to read a book I've had on my Kindle for months (maybe a year?) and whose praise I've been hearing for even longer: Soulless by Gail Carriger.

Billed as a steampunk romance, I can say with confidence that it's really not. There are a few scattered elements that may qualify, but they are minimal window dressing. Gaslight? Maybe. Paranormal? Definitely.

Alexia Tarabotti is an on-the-shelf spinster with a forthright attitude and a penchant for parasols. [If this sounds familiar, it is. There are a lot of echoes from Amelia Peabody in this book.] She's minding her own business in the library during a ball when a vampire attacks her. After accidentally staking said vampire with her very sharp hairpin, she and the werewolf alpha, Lord Maccon, try to discover what prompted the attack and discover something far more sinister going on in the streets and houses of London.

I had a few instances where Alexia seemed to act out of character. Where I just didn't buy that she'd react a certain way. Or that Lord Maccon would allow certain things to happen. Both were usually when Lord Maccon and Alexia were... intimately involved. I can understand Alexia being overwhelmed by the chemistry between her and Lord Maccon. I can understand Lord Maccon focusing intently on Alexia. What I found hard to stomach was that either could so forget themselves when IN DANGER.

I also had some issues with the ending. I felt let down, and I'm really not clear as to why. It could be that after the teasing throughout the book, the final 'act' as it were was too easy for both of them.

Despite it's lack of substantial steampunkery, I really enjoyed this book. Gail Carriger's voice is light, cheeky and fun to read. Vivid characters, palpable chemistry, and a sense of ridiculous make this a keeper for me. I'm definitely going to be reading the next book in the series.

"I did not do anything. You opened the door. I simply fell out of it. A man was attacking me with a wet handkerchief. What else was I supposed to do?"

Lord Maccon could not say much in response to such an outlandish defense.

So he merely repeated, "A wet handkerchief?"

My Grade: B+

The Blurb:
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. 

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?
SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.


  1. Ah, I know how it is to miss a challenge deadline, I don't even want to think about how far behind I am on my monthly deadlines.

    Anyway, great review. This book seems like it's pretty crazy.

    Lah @ LazyGirl Reads

  2. I enjoyed Soulless. I haven't gotten around to reading the sequels yet, though I have the bundle with books 1-3 on my Kindle.

  3. The steampunky elements are much more present in the later books, although I would never call it a steampunk series. I believe it's been described as a paranormal Victorian comedy of manners. That seems pretty accurate to me.

  4. @Lah,

    The book is a very interesting mix of genres. And deadlines have taken a backseat to RL these last few months :)


    I liked it, too. I was in the mood for a light read and this fit the bill perfectly.


    That description does seem far more accurate. I'm puzzled why so many mention this as 'steampunk', though. It could be based on the later installments, but those elements were very sparse in this book.