Soulless by Gail Carriger (Parasol Protectorate #1)

Alexia Tarabotti is labouring 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?

TITLE: Soulless
AUTHOR: Gail Carriger
YEAR: 2009
LENGTH: 357 pages 
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy, Romance

Queer Rep Summary: Gay/Achillean Secondary Character(s).

Alexia Tarabotti is a spinster in her mid-twenties, mostly content to spend her time at home, in libraries, or with her friend Ivy who has unfortunate taste in hats. She’s also soulless, a preternatural whose touch can temporarily revert any supernatural persons to their formerly mortal state.

Alexia and the London werewolf Alpha, Conall, have chemistry built on mutual annoyance. He enjoys someone who will surprise and stand up to him (a limited commodity when one is the Alpha of a pack of werewolves), and she seems surprised when annoying him for fun turns into something more. Professor Lyall is his Beta, a competent and unassuming older werewolf who is a quiet, steady presence. Ivy, Alexia’s hat-obsessed friend, is one of my favorite characters but this isn’t yet the book where she shines. Lord Akeldama is a flamboyant and well-informed vampire who is utterly delightful.

The worldbuilding is cohesive and worked naturally into the story. Alexia and Conall both have to think in order to stay in step with social expectations (or notice whenever they flout them), which provides opportunities for many details about the setting without distracting from the story. I read this series so many times in high school that I’m having trouble distilling my thoughts about the series generally into what just applies to this book. It sets up the cephalopod-obsessed organization which will continue to have a presence in the series, as well as establishing (at least by mention) many of the characters who will matter as the series continues. 

I love this series and it’s so nice to dive into it again.

Graphic/Explicit CW for sexual content, kidnapping, confinement, blood, violence.

Moderate CW for racism, xenophobia, sexism, misogyny, gore, genocide, torture, murder, death.

Minor CW for religious bigotry, dementia, domestic abuse, war, animal death, parental death.

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