I took a long road to my Lit degree: four schools in two states over fifteen years to be exact. While I earned my History degree somewhere inside that, I never felt like I’d finished my undergraduate schooling until the Literature degree was in my hand.
Every school attended found a reason to consider my knowledge of British Literature inadequate. In the end I completed six Brit Lit and two Brit Drama courses. I am well acquainted with Austen, Donne, Shakespeare, Marvel, and many others.
Reading Gail Carriger’s Alexia Taraboti novels takes me back to my Brit Lit immersion. I laugh out loud as she weds comedies of manners and paranormal romance with bits of steampunk window dressing and snappy dialogue.
Alexia is an outcast in Victorian society: half Italian, too big, and a spinster at twenty-five. Soulless, the first book, starts in media res with a vampire slaying whose silent victim is a treacle tart the voracious Alexia had been eyeing.
While the romance elements in the first book dive into the sexual (an essential component of paranormal romance), they are a culmination after a novel’s worth of awkward flirting which isn’t recognized as flirting for a long while.
My favorite element is the language: Carriger captures the Victorian overspeak and neatly weaves in facts I’d forgotten, like novels being considered lowbrow, popular, entertainment. Soulless has a bit of a mystery to its plot, as the vampire Alexia dispatches is neither registered nor part of the regular, well-dressed supernatural community permeating and ruling London society. Soulless is a satisfying read.
While I felt like Changeless, the second book, loses some of the first’s steam in a journey to Scotland, it does introduce an excellent new character and delves nicely into Alexia’s nature. More mysteries are set up, some of which aren’t resolved until the end of the fourth book, Heartless.
The third book, Blameless, continues the second’s book travel theme. Alexia flees to Italy, getting deeper into her own history and that of her rakish father. The chase, adventure, and conflict resolution is quite satisfying.
Fourth, and as strong as the first in my opinion, is Heartless. Several long boiling mysteries come to fruition. Alexia has physical challenges to her goals of protecting kin and country that I’d rather not spoil; but she manages it with the intensely pragmatic nature of the Soulless.
The series has me hooked, and I’m quite ready for the fifth, which is out next year. If you’re looking for a charming read with quick wit and a fun take on the tired paranormal tropes of vampires and werewolves, bring a cup of tea, take a seat, and spend some time in the world of the Soulless.