Changeless by Gail Carriger (Parasol Protectorate #2)
Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears; leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.
But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. So even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.
AUTHOR: Gail Carriger
LENGTH: 384 pages
Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Secondary Character(s), Gay/Achillean Secondary Character(s).
CHANGLESS is a pretty good book which is utterly ruined by a terrible ending.
CHANGELESS begins with annoyances and crises, the regiment has appeared on the lawn and a mysterious plague of mortality has fallen upon London’s normally supernatural residents. This introduces Madame Lefoux, a hat-maker and inventor who affects masculine dress as a matter of course. There’s an entirely new storyline related to Madame Lefoux, Ivy, the mortality plague, and a sudden need to travel to Scotland. This doesn’t wrap up anything left hanging, though it is nice to see Alexia and Conall as a married couple. Several things related to the mortality issue and Conall’s past are introduced and resolved. This isn’t the final book and has a very sudden cliffhanger which demands to be addressed in the next volume. Alexia is still the main narrator and her voice is consistent, though there are some sections following other characters. I like Madame Lefoux, she's a great addition to the ensemble of characters.
There’s enough backstory given that this could mostly make sense if someone started here and hadn’t read the first book, but this book thrives on banter and relationships, so it will be much more impactful for anyone who started the series at the beginning.
Because the setting is based on real-life Victorian England (and Scotland), but with supernatural elements and steampunk, it ends up engaging with Great Britain as an empire and not just a country. The regiment which shows up was returning from serving the British military in India, apparently some kind of colonialist possession, though I’m not sure how precisely it aligns with the real trajectory of that situation. There are also mentions of British military presence in North Africa. The main characters are supernatural representatives in Queen Victoria’s government, but this is the first real reference to British colonization in the series.
I hate the ending. It’s technically in keeping with the various characters’ personalities, but it’s sudden and stressful and I’ve never liked it.
Graphic/Explicit CW for blood, gore, body horror, death.
Moderate CW for sexual content, grief, cursing, racism, sexism, blood, violence, gun violence, injury detail, colonization.
Minor CW for sexual harassment, body shaming, infidelity, pregnancy, vomit, alcohol, drug use, war.