The Parasol Protectorate: An overview

Oh good, it’s finally July.
I’ve always considered myself an avid reader. There was a time when it was not uncommon for me to be reading two novels at once. As I’m sure you can guess by the name of this blog, once in a book store I head straight to the science fiction and fantasy section.
In the last couple of months I haven’t done a lot of reading. When I have it’s been reading Arthur Conan Doyle, I’m on a kick to fill in the Sherlock Holmes stories I did not read in High School. One of the big reasons I haven’t made time (outside of life issues) is that the various series I follow haven’t had new books out. My fiancée Larisa has been trying to get me to start the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but I wanted to hold off until season one of Game of Thrones ended. I will get to it eventually.
But not yet, it’s July, and that means two books I have been waiting for are being released.
The first is Heartless by Gail Carriger, book four in The Parasol Protectorate series which has just released. The other is Ghost Story by Jim Butcher, book fourteen in The Dresden Files series which will release on the 26th.
For those not familiar The Parasol Protectorate here is a brief overview. (I’ll do a Dresden one closer to its release.)
The Parasol Protectorate is a supernatural steampunk alternate history series set in Victorian England. The four books in the series so far are Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, and the new book Heartless 
The premise is that vampires, werewolves, and ghosts are known to the general public and are accepted and integrated into society. Science has also advanced faster which adds mad scientists to the mix.
Our main character is Alexia Tarabotti, a lady from an upper class family who was born without a soul. This condition gives her the ability to cancel out the supernatural through physical contact. This means that if she touches a Vampire or Werewolf they become human for the duration of the contact. This naturally makes her of interest to the supernatural members of society, particularly Lord Maccon alpha werewolf of the London pack and head of the agency that deals with supernatural concerns for the crown. She is also friends with Lord Akeldama a flamboyant vampire aristocrat who’s knowledge of the goings on in society rival and even exceeds government intelligence.
What makes these novels stand out from other supernatural or steampunk novels is Carriger’s writing style. She weaves some her plots with a mix of mysteries to be solved, action, politics, and social manners. At the heart is a barbed wit evokes the spirit of Oscar Wilde (who I am convinced is the basis for Lord Akeldama)
And the cast, oh the cast.
Alexia is a great character to follow. Her lack of a soul means she has little to no creativity and her development of morals and sensitivity had to be through observation. To compensate she has had to develop a code of conduct based on pragmatism and social acceptability. A great deal is made of her inheriting her late Italian father’s looks in contrast to her lily white half-sisters.
Her best friend Ivy is a silly young thing with a fondness for ugly hats that defies all logic. Ivy’s greatest advantage is that being such a flighty girl people often mistake her for being stupid as well.
Lord Maccon is fun as the love interest because he is in many ways Alexia’s opposite, but ultimately they meet in having little tolerance for the frivolities of society. He is a brash man who never lets you forget that the wolf is part of him.
He is backed up by Professor Lyle, the pack beta who is practical, frighteningly competent and been the beta for the last several alphas.
As I said earlier, think Oscar Wilde and you have an idea of Lord Akeldama. He surrounds himself with a collection of foppish young gentlemen led by his right hand man, Biffy.
I don’t feel I can really do the whole series justice in a single blog post. For more check out Gail Carriger’s website here.
I really do suggest giving this series a try. I’ll post a review of Heartless as soon as I finish it.

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