Soulless

Soulless

Soulless is a steampunk paranormal romance novel by Gail Carriger. First published in the United States on October 1, 2009 by Orbit Books, Soulless is the first book in a projected five-novel "The Parasol Protectorate" series, each featuring Alexia Tarabotti, a woman without a soul, as its lead character. A finalist for several literary awards and a recipient of the 2010 Alex Award, Soulless was declared by Publishers Weekly to be one of the "Best Books of 2009". A manga adaptation of the first 3 volumes of the novel was published by Yen Press in July 2011.

Gail Carriger is the pen name of Tofa Borregaard, an American archaeologist and author of steampunk fiction. She was born in Bolinas, an unincorporated community in Marin County, California, and attended high school at Marin Academy. She received her undergraduate degree from Oberlin College, a masters of science in archaeological materials at England's University of Nottingham in 2000, and a master of arts in anthropology (with a focus on archaeology) at the University of California Santa Cruz in 2008.

Novels

 

Carriger's first novel, Soulless, was published in 2009 by Orbit Books and earned her a nomination for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. The book was a Compton Crook Award nominee, a Locus Award finalist for Best First Novel, and Locus placed her on their recommended reading list.Her second novel, Changeless, was published in early 2010 and earned her a place on the New York Times Bestseller List. Her third novel, Blameless, was released in September 2010 and also became a New York Times bestseller.The five-book series continued with Heartless in late June 2011 and concluded with Timeless in March 2012. Carriger was the guest of honor at FenCon, a science fiction convention in Dallas, Texas, in September 2011. Carriger lists "PG Wodehouse, Austen, Dickens, and Victorian travel journals" as influences on her writing.

 

Carriger's series for young adults, the four-book Finishing School series, launched with Etiquette & Espionage in February 2013 and was an instant New York Times bestseller.[ Book two in the Finishing School series, Curtsies & Conspiracies was released in November 2013. In July 2012, final cover art and synopsis for Etiquette & Espionage were revealed along with the announcement of the second Parasol Protectorate series titled The Custard Protocol. The first novel in the Custard Protocol series was called Prudence, followed by Imprudence, Competence, and Reticence.

Bibliography

Parasol Protectorate

 

    Soulless (2009) USA, Orbit Books ISBN 0-316-05663-4, Pub date October 7, 2009, Paperback

    Changeless (2010) USA, Orbit Books ISBN 0-316-07414-4, Pub date April 1, 2010, Paperback

    Blameless (2010) USA, Orbit Books ISBN 0-316-07415-2, Pub date September 1, 2010, Paperback

    Heartless (2011) USA, Orbit Books ISBN 0-316-12719-1, Pub date June 28, 2011, Paperback

    Timeless (2012) USA, Orbit Books, ISBN 0-316-12718-3, Pub date February 28, 2012, Paperback

 

Supernatural Society Novellas

 

    Romancing the Inventor, Gail Carriger LLC, ISBN 9781944751067, Pub date 1 November 2016, paperback / eBook.

    Romancing the Werewolf, Gail Carriger LLC, ISBN 9781944751104, Pub date 5 November 2017, paperback / eBook.

 

Parasol Protectorate (Manga)

 

    Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1 (2012) USA, Yen Press ISBN 0-316-18201-X, Pub date March 1, 2012, Paperback based on Soulless

    Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 2 (2012) USA, Yen Press ISBN 0-316-18206-0, Pub date November20,2012, Paperback, based on Changeless

    Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 3 (2013) USA, Yen Press Pub date November 19, 2013, Paperback, based on Blameless

 

Finishing School

 

    Etiquette & Espionage (2013) USA, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers ISBN 0-316-19008-X

    Curtsies & Conspiracies (November 5, 2013) USA, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers ISBN 978-1907411601

    Waistcoats & Weaponry (November 4, 2014) ISBN 9780316190275

    Manners & Mutiny (November 3, 2015) ISBN 9780316190282

 

Delightfully Deadly Novellas

 

    Poison or Protect, Gail Carriger LLC, ISBN 978-1944751043, Pub date 21 June 2016, paperback / eBook

 

The Custard Protocol

 

    Prudence (2015)

    Imprudence (2016)

    Competence (2018)

    Reticence (6 Aug 2019)

 

San Andreas Shifters

 

    Marine Biology (2010) novella in The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2

    The Sumage Solution (2017)

    The Omega Objection (2018)

    The Enforcer Enigma forth coming (2020)

 

Short fiction

 

    My Sister's Song

    Marine Biology (2010) in The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2

    Fairy Debt (2013)

    The Curious Case of the Werewolf that Wasn't, The Mummy that Was and the Cat in the Jar (2013) The Book of the Dead

 

Other

 

    Which Is Mightier, the Pen or the Parasol? article (2010) Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded

Reception

 

In their August 2009 starred review, Publishers Weekly said of Soulless that "Carriger debuts brilliantly with a blend of Victorian romance, screwball comedy of manners and alternate history." Her "[w]ell-drawn secondary characters round out the story" and that "[t]his intoxicatingly witty parody will appeal to a wide cross-section of romance, fantasy and steampunk fans." Karen Burnham of SF Signal reviewed the novel as "rather more fun than the sum of its parts" which "add up to a very fast, very fun romp of a novel".Rob H. Bedford reviewed Soulless for SFF World noting "Carriger does an impressive job of drawing the reader into the story immediately" but found it "a frustrating read" due to "the repetitive aspects of the novel".

Awards and nominations

 

The book was a Compton Crook Award nominee for the best first novel of the year in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, or horror fiction;a Locus Award finalist for Best First Novel;and Locus placed her on their recommended reading list.Soulless was one of just ten novels to receive the 2010 Alex Award from the American Library Association as a book written for adults that has a "special appeal" to young adults. Publishers Weekly placed the book on their "Best Books of 2009" list, one of just five mass-market books to make the cut. The novel, Carriger's first, earned her a nomination for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.The cover of the novel was awarded second place in the Mass Market Cover competition at the New York Book Show by the Bookbinders Guild of New York. Audible.com named the Soulless audiobook narrated by Emily Gray as one of the Best of 2010 in the "Sci-Fi & Fantasy" category.

Adaptations

In June 2010, an audiobook version of the unabridged text of Soulless, as narrated by Emily Gray, was released by Audible.com. In September 2010, Carriger's literary agent announced that worldwide rights to adapt the first three novels in the Alexia Tarabotti series as graphic novels have been sold to Yen Press. Yen Press, like series publisher Orbit Books, is a division of Hachette Book Group. The serialized Yen Press OEL manga adaptation of Soulless debuted in the July 2011 edition of Yen Plus magazine. The first volume was released March 2012 and debuted second in the New York Times Manga Best Seller List. In 2012, Carriger announced that the Parasol Protectorate series had been optioned for television by a small film company in Ireland

Review:

tor.com

Mur Lafferty

Vampires, werewolves, and parasols. Oh my.

 

I’m not one to use the word “delightful.” It doesn’t cross my lips in conversation or in writing. I’m a cynical geek, and while most geeks experience love, hate, obsession, desire, and myriad other emotions, delight is just too… pure of a feeling for the die-hard cynics among us. Our smiles must have a twist of the ironic, our pleasure has to come with a wink. Delight is not something we come by often.

 

However, I can say without reservation that Gail Carriger’s Soulless is an absolute delight to read.

 

Carriger’s first, the book takes place in Victorian London: an aging (mid-twenties) spinster, Alexia Tarabotti, who happens to be without a soul, is put in the horribly awkward social position of accidentally killing a vampire at a gathering. Her soulless aspect makes her a preternatural; it causes her to cancel out the supernaturals’ (werewolves, ghosts, and vampires) abilities when they touch. This makes her immune to all supernatural attacks, but really, since the supernaturals have been acclimated into polite society in the UK, she doesn’t really need those powers, does she? A vampire attacking a woman at a social gathering against her will is simply not done. Not to mention any vampire would have to be an idiot, or unschooled in what all vampires should know about Miss Tarabotti, to attack her. But one does, and the question of why leads Alexia and her companions to uncover the mystery of why vampires are appearing in odd places, unknown to the area hive queens and utterly ignorant of what it is to be a supernatural.

 

The world Carriger creates is so delicious, with the story holding tightly to Victorian values while bringing in supernatural society and forcing it into the mold. The vampires fit in nicely, but the werewolves are a tad rough to introduce to civilized society. While dirigibles float in the sky (sadly they merely mentioned in book one, but there are hints for more dirigible action in book two) and unaffiliated vampires and werewolves go missing, the pressing question is what Alexia’s mother and stepfather will do with an aging spinster.

 

The mythology brought about in the book regarding souls is interesting: souls are measure as if by volume, so if you have a strong soul then you can handle being turned into a vampire or werewolf. Weak souls die from an attack, unable to reanimate. But Miss Tarabotti is completely soulless, meaning that she cancels out supernaturals’ power. It’s assumed that she’s the antithesis of the supernaturals, a natural hunter of the supernaturals because she can’t be harmed by their powers.

 

For her own safety—and to save her family from embarrassment—Miss Tarabotti keeps said fact about her soul hidden from most, but the officials at BUR (the investigators into supernatural crimes) know. Very few others, including her family, are aware of this.

 

The characters are a lot of fun, with the headstrong spinster hero, Alexia, and her questionable heritage (her father was Italian, can you imagine?), the ancient dandy vampire Lord Akeldama who cares more for fashion, gossip, and young men than most anything else, and the gruff, handsome Lord Maccon, alpha werewolf and BUR official. He’s Scottish, but society manages to ignore that most of the time.

 

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Carriger shows an enviable talent for naming characters, with Miss Ivy Hisselpenny as Alexia’s best friend, who shows a horrific taste in hats, the Loontwills as her stepfather and half sisters, and Floote as the very capable and discrete manservant. These names made me want to read the book aloud.

 

Soulless makes one think of what would happen if you told an urban fantasy in the days of steampunk Victorian England. Yes, we have a heroine with some kind of super power, and there’s a love story, and there are vampires and werewolves. But Miss Tarabotti is very much a product of her upbringing; she’s headstrong, but much too ladylike to go using her powers to fight, goodness no. While smarter than most of the socialites around her, and eager to help the investigating werewolves, she is always mindful of her appearance and the Proper Way Things Are Done. Tarabotti is an excellent mix of upper class socialite and heroine.

 

Soulless has but one flaw, and while distracting, it hardly reduces the pleasure of reading the novel. The point of view jumps rather wildly from head to head, where we’ll see the scene from the POV of Miss Tarabotti, then Lord Maccon’s second in command, then Mrs. Loontwill, then back to Miss Tarabotti. Some scenes prove dizzying and one would wish the action had a scene break or two to show us different points of view instead of leaping from head to head.

 

But honestly, that infraction is minor to the fact that this book is delightful, funny, exciting, and difficult to put down. It made me want treacle tart and a parasol.



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