Alexia Tarabotti returns in the second installment of the Parasol Protectorate series, in which she, a woman without a soul, has power over supernatural creatures such as vampires and werewolves. Her touch effectively renders them human again - and therefore vulnerable.
Events in this book pick up fairly soon after the conclusion of the first novel, and potential spoilers await those who haven't read Soulless. I know I always say this, and I am admittedly pretty obsessive about reading books in order, but really, start with the first one or you'll be missing out on a lot!
Alexia, now Lady Woolsey (as she has married handsome werewolf leader Conall, with whom she fell head over heels in the previous book), is adjusting to married life. As she has been appointed to a special position by the Queen, and Conall is busy with pack business, she and Conall are still working out their relationship while continually distracted by their various responsibilities.
Her husband takes off for Scotland without informing her just as a mysterious event draws her attention - it appears that zones have been appearing in and around London, in which all excess soul magic is nullified - werewolves cannot change shape; vampires are turned mortal (with potentially disastrous results), and ghosts are immediately, irreparably exorcised. Accompanied by her friend Miss Hisselpenny (who has a fondness for bizarre hats) and her spoiled, ill-tempered sister, Alexia heads to Scotland herself, and has quite a few adventures - and mishaps - along the way.
I found myself enjoying this second installment even more than the first. Alexia has more confidence, power, and freedom, and she is enjoying her life. It is fun to see her deal with her irascible husband, her sharp-tongued sister, an intriguing inventor, and the wolves of her husband's pack - all of which forces her to use every bit of ingenuity, intelligence and resourcefulness she possesses.
The characters continue to develop in interesting ways, and a few new ones are introduced as well. The mystery is intriguing, and the magical rules of this alternate are fun and different. I enjoyed the conclusion of the book, which felt right and made sense, but I wasn't too thrilled with the additional element that was thrown in at the end, apparently to heighten suspense and make us anxious to get to the next book (which I would have been anyway). It seems to me that, without giving things away, the misunderstanding that arises could easily be cleared up with a few moments of reflection and conversation. Still, the series continues to be clever and enjoyable, and I look forward to the next book, Blameless, which will be released in the U.S. next month.
Books in the Parasol Protectorate series:
Changeless (#2 in the Parasol Protectorate series) by Gail Carriger (Orbit, 2010)
Source: My local public library
Also reviewed at:
Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog: "Changeless doesn’t really fill in any of the gaps, but it does expand on some of the world’s details (like the technology!) and it was overall a so much more fun book that I’d say even if you didn’t particularly like Soulless you WOULD like Changeless."
I Read Good: "Alexia remains an unparalleled protagonist – brusque, intelligent, unfashionably frank (though slightly more fashionable in terms of wardrobe, thanks to her new maid Angelique) – and she’s joined by a wonderful group of supporting characters, including a couple new faces."
Today's Adventure: "I love just about everything about CHANGELESS. Carriger has upped the stakes for the series in a big way, and I have no doubt that she'll deliver."