“Soulless”

Finally read it!!

Today is Holloween, All Hollow’s Eve, or Samhain depending on your traditions. It is also the last day before the mighty plunge into NaNoWriMo. I racked my brain to figure out what an appropriate topic for today would be, considering that I neither read nor write horror if I can help it. Then it came to me. I ought to talk about Soulless! It’s about Vampires and Werewolves and other suitably Holloweenish creatures, so it makes perfect sense to gush about it today!

The cover of Soulless

Soulless is the first book in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. I first ran across it on Agent Kristin Nelson’s blog (if  you’re interested in writing, you should be reading her blog). She had been doing posts about successful queries, and she did a two-part post of Ms. Carriger’s query (here and here). I was intrigued. Then Kristen posted the opening pages of Soulless and I was completely hooked. I simply HAD to read this book, and I searched diligently for it. Unfortunately, the book wasn’t released in the UK (where I was residing at the time) and wouldn’t be until I returned home to the US. You can imagine how completely thrilled I was last weekend when I finally got my hot little hands on it after nine months of impatient waiting.

Nor did the novel disappoint. It is a debut novel, so there are a few “broken rules” here and there (primarily there is head-hopping, which gets a bit confusing now and then), but the wonderful authorial voice of Ms. Carriger more than makes up for any craft problems. Of course, Alexia Tarabotti (the main character) is thoroughly awesome. She reminds me slightly of one of my favorite characters of all time, Amelia Peabody Emerson, from my literary hero Elizabeth Peters. Alexia is funny, daring, and most of all interesting. She’s not afraid to go where angels fear to tread as the saying goes, and generally manages to get herself out of most of her scrapes except the final one. While the hero, Lord Maccon, does end up rescuing her in the end, he is only able to do so with Alexia’s help and her unique talents. Alexia is absolutely the type of heroine I love to read about, and she certainly did not disappoint in any part of Soulless.

The story itself is pretty interesting too, despite the focus on Vampires and Werewolves. Vampires, either despite or because of their current popularity, are really not my thing. I am generally not that interested in Vampire (and by extension Werewolf) stories. Perhaps because this was Alexia’s story first and a Vampire story second, it overcame my usual ambivalence. I was particularly interested in the idea of supernatural ability being tied to amount of soul a person had, and the idea that someone could be completely without a soul and yet not evil. Overall, I can’t wait to read the next book, Changeless.

I hope everyone has a very happy Holloween etc. Now I’m off to ponder whether I want to make an actual outline (I have a synopsis, but no outline) first, or write the first 1600 words of Kipling’s Cat and then create an outline once I have a better feel for the book.

Thought for the Week: “In this particular instance the vampire came darkly-shimmering out of the library shadows with feeding fangs ready, touched Miss Tarabotti, and was suddenly no longer darkly doing anything at all.” Gail Carriger

Currently Reading: Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie

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