by Gail Carriger
Amazon / Goodreads
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.
First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire--and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?
Review:Alexia Tarabotti is a delightful character! She's outspoken, loves good food, and is intelligent and sarcastic. I loved reading all about her adventures in this novel. And of her antagonistic relationship with Lord Maccon, who finds her very exasperating. But of course there is something more between them. The romance aspect was delicious - a bit steamy, but also fun because of how unused to romance Alexia was. Lord Maccon was not a character that leaped off the page as distinctly as Alexia for me, but he was a character that I can easily think of as 'yummy' and 'book boyfriend material'. I'm sure though that there will be a lot more development to his character through the course of the series.
The steampunk-ish, supernatural world the author sets up is fantastic as well - so detailed and believable, down to the pseudo-scientific explanations for the supernaturals and preternaturals. The Victorian aspect was very well described as well with the details of dress and etiquette, which made the whole world really come to life.
The mystery aspect of the story sometimes felt subordinate to the romance and the development of the characters, but there were some great twists and surprises, and a highly satisfactory resolution. I felt the villains' motivation behind the mystery was relatable and something important to examine, because it is an aspect of human nature that seems to be unfortunately prevalent today and I thought it interesting to consider that universality of it while Alexia had to deal with it in the novel. But I don't want to reveal too much about that part of the story, as it might give away some key details about the mystery.
The only aspect of this novel that disappointed me somewhat, was some of the illogical actions of a character towards the end. I didn't understand why that person did a couple of things, regardless of his feelings, so it sometimes felt like the situation that came of it was very contrived. But this is a great start to a series, and I plan to continue reading!
And I learned a new word - bluestocking. I've heard of it before but I never really knew what it meant, but it means a "literary and intellectual woman." I love it!