June 2024
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Review: Soulless, Gail Carriger

Miss Alexia Tarrabotti, a half-Italian spinster, also happens to be soulless.  Unfortunately for the vampire who tries to attack her, this means that she negates supernatural powers, and his fangs effectively vanish when he touches her.  But the vampire’s death by wooden hairpin sparks a whole investigation – why doesn’t he know what she is?  Why doesn’t he belong to one of the hives, and if not why isn’t he registered anyway?  When Queen Victoria sends in werewolf Lord Maccon to help the investigation, Alexia is caught up in a whirlwind of mystery and attraction.

I’m a little bummed that I didn’t like Soulless.  It’s received so very many rave reviews, and it sounded perfect from the description.  Since the second book is suddenly appearing on everyone’s wishlists, I figured it was time to read it.  Unfortunately I found that the style felt contrived from the very first page.  Normally I enjoy authors who write as if they were living in the time period, but it just grated on my nerves here.  I also got annoyed at the author’s tendency to put a sentence about how the characters were feeling right before they spoke, because it was obvious that she didn’t need to tell us about it.  The characters are often nodding or smiling as they speak – there must be a lot of sore necks in this world. And the repetition got to me, too. We hear often about how horrible it is that Alexia is half-Italian and has darker skin and a larger-than-average nose and curves and how terrible it is that her Italian father is dead. I guess it’s good that she’s a little bit different, but I got that at the beginning. In general because the prose was so odd and repetitive I found it impossible to lose myself in it and enjoy the story.  It just all felt like it was done to mask a lack somewhere else, to make it stand out from the current crowd of paranormal romances.  Others enjoyed this, so I’d suggest this was just me.

The mystery story was mostly okay, at least as historical urban fantasy goes, and I was interested to see what happened next.  I’m not the most demanding in terms of plotlines, but I was entertained.  I also really liked the world.  It’s mainly a Victorian urban fantasy with some small steampunk elements, which I did think set it a little apart from the pack in a good way.  This is one aspect I’d really like to see further developed.  I really like all the genres contained in this book and an author who can combine them well is talented.

The romance, however, made zero sense.  I could not figure out why the couple liked one another.  Lord Maccon was interested in Alexia because she smelled good, mostly, or at least that’s all I can remember from what defined their relationship.  I couldn’t honestly figure out why she was drawn to him.  They didn’t seem to have any chemistry and their romantic interludes included a startling amount of biting, which I could have done without.

Anyway, the next book in the series, Changeless, is apparently going to include more of the mystery and less of the romance, which for once I actually think I will prefer.  I’m not sure I’ll go out and buy it, but I will probably try and find it in the library.  The author seems like she’s full of clever ideas and I would like to give the series another shot.

I am an Amazon Associate. I bought this book.


10 comments to Review: Soulless, Gail Carriger

  • Ooops! I don’t think I’ll be reading this one. The aspects of the book that bothered you, sound like they would bother me. If I have a gap in my reading and the library has a copy, I might give it a try.
    .-= Beth F´s last blog ..Featuring . . . The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama =-.

  • It’s too bad this didn’t work for you. I don’t think it’s my kind of book, but I just adore the cover.

  • Is it selfish of me that I’m happy to finally read a negative review of this book? I agree with you COMPLETELY. I thought I would adore the writing style of this book, because I do enjoy clever writing–and it is clever…ish–but it was super-repetitive. And on the whole I just found the book and the characters to be really shallow.

    The world is definitely cool, though. I wouldn’t object to trying the next book in the series.
    .-= heidenkind´s last blog ..Novels & Gender =-.

  • I am like you and Heidenkind. I enjoyed this book because it was fun, but I think the aspects that annoyed me would annoy me even more as the story continued. I don’t know why all smart girls in currently-written Victorian era literature seemed to have such ridiculously low self-esteems, but it annoys me. Also, I thought the whole romance was AWKWARD, especially the part when Maccon and Alexia are in a cage together. Or even when they’re just in the street together making out. It was just BIZARRE to read, no matter how witty some of the lines were. And all the time they spent alone together! So not true to history.
    .-= Aarti´s last blog ..Review: The Graveyard Book =-.

  • This doesn’t really sound all that appealing to me. Sorry that it didn’t work for you even though you wanted it to.
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Book Blogger Hop =-.

  • I abandoned this one after only a few pages. The protagonist was already on my nerves, and despite reading a few rave reviews, I couldn’t stomach it. Since then, I’ve read a few other reviewers who didn’t like it, and I’m always glad I didn’t finish the book. The cover is gorgeous, the story sounds amazing, but the writing and character didn’t work for me. Thanks for posting an honest review!
    .-= nomadreader´s last blog ..young adult book review & giveaway: L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad =-.

  • I’ve read a mix of reviews about this one. I’ll give a try but will check it out of the library instead. Thanks for your honesty.
    .-= Jennygirl´s last blog ..Sunday Reflections (March 7) =-.

  • Oh! I am sad to hear that this one wasn’t great, as I got it this year from my Secret Santa! I have only read a couple of reviews, but I can see where some of the things that annoyed you would bother me too. Sorry to hear this one wasn’t a total winner. I think I will move it down in the stack.
    .-= zibilee´s last blog ..Raven Stole the Moon, Review and Giveaway** by Garth Stein – 464 pgs =-.

  • kay

    I agree with your review. I found the writing repetitive, too, and didn’t really get the romance. I’ll give the next book in the series a chance, probably. At least the covers are really great!
    .-= kay´s last blog ..Filling the Shelf – 16 =-.

  • Pam

    I really want to give this one a shot. I think I will agree with you a lot on the second book probably being better if there is more mystery. I really like the cover art.
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..Review: Merlin’s Harp by Anne Crompton =-.