Plot Summary: Alexia Tarabotti is a 25 year-old spinster living with her family in Victorian London. Half Italian, half English, she takes more after her deceased Italian father’s side in more ways than one – her intellectual curiosity, her darker skin, voluptuous shape, and her… soullessness. Alexia is a preternatural – soulless, her very touch negates the supernatural powers of the vampires, werewolves, and ghosts that walk the streets of London.
Being a spinster is the least of Alexia’s problems right now. Rogue vampires are popping up all over London; known and respected vampiric members of London society are disappearing, and Lord Maccon, the werewolf head of Her Royal Majesty’s Bureau off Unnatural Registry (BUR) is driving Alexia to distraction – and not always in a bad way. When they aren’t driving each other crazy, Alexia and Lord Maccon work well as a team, and discover that there is a sinister plot afoot to bring down vampire society.
Critical Evaluation: Soulless is the first book in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, an adult series with definite teen crossover potential. A steampunk, supernatural adventure-romance set in Victorian England, the book is a fun, sexy romp through London high society with plenty of supernatural creatures to keep readers interested. The pace is light and quick, and the characters are engaging with witty dialogue.
Reviews: Publishers Weekly: “Carriger debuts brilliantly with a blend of Victorian romance, screwball comedy of manners and alternate history. This intoxicatingly witty parody will appeal to a wide cross-section of romance, fantasy and steampunk fans.”
Barnes and Noble: “A charming mass market original.”
Reader’s Annotation: Who is behind the vampire disappearances in London, and why are there new ones appearing out of nowhere? It will take a soulless woman to get to the bottom of the mysteries in Victorian London.
Author Information: Gail Carrriger’s Parasol Protectorate series is being released in manga format; she also has a YA series, Finishing School, set in the same universe. Her website offers links to her blog, information about her books, steampunk, a press kit, and an FAQ.
Genre: Fantasy. Subgenres: steampunk, adult crossover, paranormal, Victorian, mystery.
Booktalking Ideas: Alexia Tarabotti is always told she’s different – and not in a good way. She isn’t petite and pale like her half-sisters and she actively seeks knowledge – not your usual Victorian lady qualities. Alexia knows she has many talents that make her unconventional. What are some of your talents that set you apart from others?
Reading Level/Interest Age: 16+
Challenge Issues/Defense: Supernatural elements, mild sexuality. Defense: It’s a fantasy novel for older teens.
Why did you include this book in the titles you selected?
Steampunk is a popular area of YA fiction right now, and the Parasol Protectorate series is gaining a strong readership among YA fans. Paranormal romance is also hugely popular right now, and this seemed like a good fit – a next step for Twilight fans.