Gail Carriger’s Soulless is an excellent addition to the genre I will dub Supernatural Romystery. The Supernatural Romystery can be found in any large number of settings. Soulless takes place in an alternate and gloriously Steampunk London.
Soulless is Ms. Carriger’s first published novel, and it is fantastic. She writes in a wry, proper tone that an Anglophile will love, even when some of the events described in that tone become very improper indeed.
Ms. Carriger’s heroine, Miss Alexia Tarabotti, is a clever spinster whose father has the temerity to be a dead Italian. In addition to inheriting his library of inappropriate books, she inherited his bizarre trait of having no soul. Vampires loose their fangs when they touch her, werewolves become human, and she may exorcise ghosts if she wishes. Her ability lands her in a great deal of trouble and frequently comes in handy.
As this is a ROmystery, there is a love interest. He is Lord Conall Maccon, Earl of Woolsey, Alpha werewolf of the only pack in London. Ms. Carriger puts an interesting twist on a romantic trope that I find worth mentioning. In most stories where the hero and heroine utterly detest each other, then fall hopelessly in love with each other, the reader or viewer watches the characters meet for the first time. In Soulless, they have met a good deal prior to Chapter One, and it involved a hedgehog.
The werewolves and vampires in Soulless are a fascinating variation on the typical bloodsuckers and occasionally furry gents we see every day. Only people with excess soul, Miss Tarabotti’s opposites, survive the transformation to supernatural beings. They have been so well integrated into society from the time of Henry VIII that they have their own gentlemen’s clubs.
I give Soulless four gears out of five. I couldn’t put Soulless down, and I suggest you pick it up.
Your Correspondent from the Bookstore,
Penny J. Merriweather