Julia and I decided to do our first joint review of BLAMELESS by Gail Carriger. Hopefully this will become a regular feature here on ATUF. Let us know what you think.
Abigail: Blending paranormal, steampunk, and romance, Soulless was one of those books that was shockingly good (as in 5/5 bats). Changeless, while still good (3/5 bats), didn't manage to recapture that perfect mix of British humor and horror, and made the grave mistake of keeping the hero and heroine apart for nearly the entire book (although the ending was excellent). With the third Parasol Protectorate book, I tried to keep my expectations in check and hope for the best. Soulless is still the best book in the series to date, but BLAMELESS is an excellent installment, full of biting wit, outlandish farce, and exquisite characterization.
Julia: Beloved characters, the comedy of Victorian social mores being observed amongst robotic swarms and evil minion attacks, droll bon mots and repartee that had me giggling and highlighting and wishing for someone to share them with... BLAMELESS rekindled my delight in Alexia Tarabotti and her Parasol Protectorate. I heartily agree with Abigail's 5/5 rating for Soulless, it is a book that I have read again and again (and have, on more than one occasion, tried to explain to hapless family members at holiday dinners). My devotion to the series was sorely tested by Changeless, which was so top heavy with arcane magical principles that Carrigner's characters had a hard time carrying the plot. However, characters and concepts that so bogged down Changeless were much more palatable in summary form, and I found BLAMELESS witty, fast-paced, and original all over again.
Abigail: Oh good. I was half afraid we'd disagree and turn this into a throw down :) I mentioned that I thought one of the big problems with Changeless was the fact that Alexia and Conall were separated for nearly the entire book. In BLAMELESS that is again the case, though it worked better this time, and I can't help but think that this book would have been even better if they'd had more interaction together. What do you think?
Julia: Throw down averted! Or maybe just postponed... (cue ominous music). Changeless was definitely light on any romance that could have cut the density of magical theory. Perhaps this is the band-aid theory of series writing. Changeless "ripped off" our expectations of seeing Alexia and Conall together, and the ending certainly set the hook for a classic romantic conflict. Despite them being apart for most of BLAMELESS, that hint of future conflict was enough to get me a few chapters in, and then the story itself did the rest. Who can resist finding out how to get a werewolf drunk? (It was the "wee pickles" part that had me doubled over in laughter). I'm an optimist, though. I have high hopes that Victorian sensibilities isn't excuse enough to keep them apart for the entire series. The question is, however, how long will Carriger keep us hanging on? Will Heartless be our first glimpse of Maccon's domestic bliss, Lord and Lady and baby?
Abigail: I think Heartless might be the pregnancy and we'll have to wait for the as yet untitled book 5 to see what happens with the "infant-inconvenience." Speaking of which, one of my favorite elements of this series is its unique mythology. Everything from the werewolves Anubis form, to the vampires hive structure, and of course the concept of preternaturals who are the antithesis of all things supernatural. I loved that in BLAMELESS we got to learn more about the nature of soullessness in general, specifically Alexia's family history (And who doesn't love the mysterious Templars?). What did you think about the new characters who revealed these new tidbits?
Julia: A whole book devoted to the pregnancy? Be still my heart! I can't think of anything more comical than an estate full of werewolves trying to keep up with a pregnant Alexia... unless it's Lord Maccon trying to make up with a pregnant Alexia. As for the new characters in BLAMELESS, I admit, I'm slow to warm up to most of Carringer's supporting characters, all I want is Conall and Alexia, Conall and Alexia! BLAMELESS was the first time I wasn't anxious to skim past Professor Lyall's perspective hoping to see more of Lord and Lady Maccon. I'm glad I learned to relax into the rhythm of this book. Madame Lefoux, Lyall, those damned, illusive hedgehogs... every detail was too good to miss. Of the new characters, no one gave me more entertainment than Monsieur Lange-Wilsdorf and his high-strung Pooche. Despite the obsessed scientist calling her "The Female Specimen", and his dog's endless, maniacal barking, Alexia navigates it all with wit, humor, and a well-placed napkin.
Abigail: See now as much as I love Alexia and Conall, I'm a bit obsessed with the supporting characters in this series. I could have read a whole book about Alexia's family. They are so wonderfully horrible. As far as the new additions this time out, Lange-Wilsdork, the leading preternatural expert, was my favorite. Analytical, and obtusely clueless when it came to people skills, I thought he was the perfect counterpart to Alexia's escalating emotional state throughout BLAMELESS. Speaking of which, I was equally taken with the mystery of what exactly Alexia was carrying and all the dire predictions and secrets about previous preternatural pregnancies of the past (try saying that three times fast). I'll be looking forward to learning more in Heartless and seeing exactly how Alexia takes to motherhood, assuming the baby is born by then. Either way the series as a whole is one of my favorites and BLAMELESS has done its job of leaving me desperate for more.
Sexual Content: References to sex. References to homosexuality. A mild scene of sensuality.
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About the reviewer
I am a 20-something book lover with an obsession for all things urban fantasy. I cut my teeth on the paranormal genre withBuffyandTwilightbefore discoveringPatricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews. Suffice … more
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Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.
Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.
While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.