Author: Gail Carriger
Series: The Parasol Protectorate #4
Publisher: Orbit Books
Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.
Ahh, back in London and it feels so good. This penultimate book in the Parasol Protectorate brings us back to jolly-old-England after that rather unseemly traipse across the continent in the last book, Blameless. Unfortunately, the vampire assassination attempts haven't stopped, so the Maccons need to figure out what to do about their "infant inconvenience" before it becomes permanently fatal for Alexia. Their decision, involving adoption by our favorite flashy vampire, evolves into a comedy of manners and hilarity that has been unmatched even by the previous books in the series. What follows is another adventure through the supernatural society of London, as the gang takes on vampire porcupines, automatonic octopi, and a pregnant Alexia who is experiencing the very worst in pregnancy cravings.
It's still kind of hard to explain the true awesomeness of this series. It somehow succeeds in poking fun at Victorian propriety while completely reveling in it. The characters are so proper, and are governed by complex and very easily broken rules while at the same time they are fighting for their lives against vampires, automatons, and other terrifying monsters. You could battle with the most terrifying creatures known to man without breaking a sweat, which is fine, but heaven help the person who eats marmalade off a spoon. The comedy is so understated, yet the whole time you will be collapsing in fits of laughter. I'm telling you, do NOT read this book while drinking any form of liquid because it will be spurting out of your nose faster than you can say "Dirigible-Appropriate Hair Muffs".
The characters themselves are really what makes this series and this book so special. From Alexia and Connall Maccon, to Ivy Tunstell(formerly Miss. Hisselpenney) to Madame Lefoux, each character has an outstanding personality that demands attention and screen time. I was so glad that Alexia and Connall have made up in this book, and that they seem to be even more in love. It was particularly amazing to see this big hulking oaf of a man, as well as every werewolf in Wolsey Castle, run around to answer to every whim of a pregnant Alexia.
Months of training had seen the entire werewolf household running attendance on an increasingly grumpy Alexia and learning, to a man, that if food was not provided promptly, the fur might fly, or worse, Lady Maccon would start to weep. As a result, several of the pack now crinkled as they moved, having desperately stashed snacks all about their personage.Hahaha...those poor, poor, men. I think you would have a hard time finding more interesting or more original characters anywhere in the genre, or fiction in general. The werewolves have more of a center stage in this book, but the vampires put in a good show as well. Lord Akeldama is fabulous as always. He is without a doubt my favorite supporting character. He is extremely smart, which he hides behind his fabulous sense of style, and compulsion to gossip. He is so eccentric, that he at times outshines some of the more central characters, but I really enjoyed both him and his band of merry men, so I wasn't upset.
The plot of Heartless was very good. The last few books seemed to have suffered a little bit as the characters took center stage, but this plot was as good if not better than the first book, Soulless. There was about four or five plot-lines going on at once, and you get to see lots of the different characters doing very unexpected things. My favorite was Alexia inducing Ivy into the "Secret Order" of The Parasol Protectorate, and then sending her on a mission to Scotland. Ivy has been one of my favorites from the beginning, and I thoroughly enjoyed that she comes off a little smarter and more important to this story. A few of the story-lines, such as the Kingair pack's assassination attempt on queen Victoria, were pretty obvious from the beginning. Yet other important parts jumped out from nowhere and totally shocked the pants off you. I for one, never saw Professor Lyall and Alexia's father's relationship coming. It was a smack in the face, but after you think about it, it does make sense. Every page in the book was packed with action, hilarity, and suspense, and what an ending! I suspected one part of it would come to pass, but the very last page shocked me to my core! I can't WAIT to read the last book in The Parasol Protectorate series, Timeless.
Previous Books in the Series: