Friday, November 11, 2011
Heartless by Gail Carriger
Heartless is the fourth book featuring the adventures of the soulless Alexia Maccon (nee Tarabotti).
In the course of the 3 preceding books of the Parasol Protectorate Alexia has gotten married to a werewolf, been made Queen Victoria's supernatural liaison, gone to Scotland, become pregnant and travelled throughout the continent.
In Heartless Alexia is back in England and trying to deal with her pregnancy. Being without a soul, Alexia is not the most maternal of ladies, she in fact refers to her unborn offspring as the 'infant inconvenience'. The Countess Nadasdy; Queen of the London vampire hive, has concerns about Alexia's child, as they believe any child of a preternatural is dangerous to her kind. To this end they're trying to kill her and her werewolf husband; Lord Conall Maccon, Alpha of the Woolsey pack.
The couple come to the conclusion that the best thing for Alexia's child is to adopt it out. Matters are complicated when Lady Maccon decides the best father for the child is her flamboyant friend, vampire about town; Lord Akeldama. This necessitates moving into the townhouse next to Akeldama's residence. Things are complicated when a mad ghost warns of an attempt on Queen Victoria's life and Alexia, despite her condition just has to investigate.
Heartless is exactly what readers have come to expect from the Parasol Protectorate with all sorts of steampunk madness from Alexia and Co. Many of the crowd favourites return; Conall and his level headed Beta Professor Lyall, Alexia's horrible half sister Felcity, who seems to have developed a social conscience and joined the suffragettes, Alexia's tasteless friend Ivy Tunstell, who also indicates that she is pregnant and is inducted into the Parasol Protectorate (in fact this is something Alexia made up specifically for Ivy) and gains the code name Puff Bonnet, Lord Akeldama and his pack of drones and the former vampire drone made werewolf; Biffy.
Although there is one more book planned in the Parasol Protectorate (Timeless due out in March 2012) this one has the feel of a finale and wraps nearly everything up neatly. I thought that this was the best installment so far and had some real character development, readers saw just how devious Felicity truly is, Alexia in particular developed significantly in Heartless. It is often remarked how little affection she has for others, her lack of feeling for her baby being one example, yet she seemed to develop very maternal feelings towards Biffy and was greatly concerned at how his lycanthropy was affecting him.
I must make note of the ridiculous surnames that Gail Carriger gives the gentry, or the ton as they are often referred to, they'r a highlight for me and Lord Akeldama's habit of never calling Alexia the same endearment twice. I can see the author chortling over her keyboard as she dreams these up.