Usual drill. I’m working on other stuff. You get a retro review.

This one is from June 18, 2010.

Review: Changeless, Gail Carriger, 2010.Changeless

Newlyweds often have many negotiations and arrangements to work out in their married lives. That holds true even when one is an aristocratic werewolf and the other a special advisor to Queen Victoria. So, when Lord Woolsey forgets to tell wife Alexia about the werewolf regiment that will be camping out on the grounds of their estate and then heads off to Scotland, she is none too happy. Especially, since she has also been charged by the Queen with figuring out why werewolves and vampires throughout London are reverting to fragile human form. Alexia being Alexia, literally soulless practicality and pragmatism, she sets off to set things right with or without her husband’s help.

While still a mixture of romance, humor, mystery, adventure, and steampunk gadgetry that has something for everyone, this wasn’t quite as entertaining as the first novel, Soulless. And, being the middle book of a trilogy, it ends on a cliffhanger. The revelation precipitating the cliffhanger is entirely predictable almost from the beginning if not the problems stemming from it.

While the first book takes place entirely in London, this book feels more closed in though, geographically, it’s more varied with a beginning in London, a dirigible journey and then Scotland being the setting for most of the rest of the book. That dirigible journey isn’t as interesting as you would expect despite dirigibles being, perhaps, the classic steampunk motif. Readers with a steampunk jones for bizarre technology will have to settle for the aethographic machine – sort of a cross between fax machine and a primitive crystal radio set. When we’re in that Scottish castle and learning whether or not its owners, the Kingair pack of werewolves, have anything to do with the plague of humanity affecting the supernatural set, the story feels sort of like one of those mysteries set at a English manor over a weekend.
While I appreciated the concentration on werewolf pack dynamics in Soulless, here they got a little tiring though we do get an explanation of why Alexia Trabotti’s husband, Lord Woolsey, abandoned his Scottish pack for an English one. And the humor, including the coy references to the couple’s sex life, got a bit stale. Indeed, the humor seemed more forced in this book, sometimes even reliant on anachronistic phrases.
On the plus side, Carriger explores the idea of soullessness in this novel and shows it’s more than just a catchy title for the first book. And we learn something of Alexia’s father and his past. And the solution to the mystery of a plague of humanity affecting werewolf and vampire is interesting and develops the background of this world, logically fits in with Alexia’s nature.
And Carriger does introduce the appealing figure of Madam Lefoux, sort of a cross between Marlene Dietrich and Q from the James Bond movies. An attractive woman in mannish garb, designer of an even more elaborate and ugly parasol for Alexia to wield, her obvious come-ons to Alexia and the latter’s seeming obliviousness to them actually do add some humor and erotic tension to the story.
More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

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