Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review: Heartless by Gail Carriger

Title: Heartless
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: The Parasol Protectorate #4
Pages: 374
Publisher: Orbit Books
Format: Paperback
Genre: Steampunk
Source: Library

Goodreads Description:
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.

My Review:
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.
I give Heartless 5 Keys! It was such a great book that I spent the entire time reading it either gripping the book with white knuckles or crying with laughter. This was definitely a one-seater despite it's size and Victorian language. I am so very sad that there is only one more book in the Parasol Protectorate series. They had been my introduction into the world of Steampunk that I love so much. There would be no "Let's Get Steamy" event without Alexia, Connall, and dear Lord Akeldama. Fortunately, the infant inconvenience seems to be getting her own series in the future! Prudence Maccon will undoubtedly be as fantastic as her mother, and I am very excited to read anything that Ms. Carriger decides to bring forward. I owe Ms.Carriger a lot, because without her I would never have discovered this completely bizarre, yet amazing sub-genre of science fiction. Huzzah! :)
Previous Books in the Series:


  1. i am so interested in this series from all youve said!

  2. I can't wait to get copies of this series. I so want to read them like yesterday. (0: BTW...love the Paul Sweeney quote. That is exactly how I feel when a good book or series comes to the end.

  3. I really can't wait to get this series. The covers are so fun and I can tell that they are fun reads.

  4. I haven't read this yet, but I'm really happy you loved it. Heartless is sitting on my TBR pile, but, after reading your review, I think I'm going to begin it tonight! >_< Thank you for posting! :)

  5. I love the parasol protectorate series! I was so sad to hear that it was ending! I hope Prudence lives up, but knowing Carriger she will be just as great as her momma! Thanks for the review!