Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate)
by Gail Carriger
Cover Artist: Photo: Derek Caballero
Review by Gayle Surrette
Orbit Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316074148
Date: 01 April 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
At the end of Soulless, Alexia Tarabotti, surprising herself even more than society at large, managed to fall in love and find a husband. Of course it helped that he was as stubborn and hard-headed as she was. Changeless opens shortly after the wedding. Alexia is living with her husband and now has a position, although a secret one, with the British government working directly for the Queen. Her current task is to find out why all the supernaturals lost their abilities in a small section of London and why is that area of negative power moving north to Scotland. Her husband, working to solve another problem is also headed to Scotland. Could these problems be related?
In the Parasol Protectorate, Carriger has created a wonderfully detailed world that is just one step to the side of our own. It's the Victorian Age, an exciting time of scientific experimentation along with ghosts, vampires, and werewolves. There's even a government agency devoted to the concerns of the supernatural. And business, government, and shops must adjust their hours to serve this melded population in which customers may show up anytime of the day or night.
Alexia, our point of view character, is soulless. She's basically one of a kind. Soulless persons are very rare and no one quite knows what powers they have or why they have the powers that are known. Being soulless, Alexia has a very rational view of the world, the people, and the rules of society. She is sharp witted and doesn't suffer fools gladly. Nonetheless, she can be fiercely loyal. Thus as our guide to this world, she keeps us entertained with her impressions of what is happening around her. Indeed she is one of a kind in steampunk writing.
This story is basically a mystery. What is causing the area of un-natural power loss? Why is it moving? How can it be stopped? The mystery is surrounded by another story, that of two people who are trying to develop a working relationship of mutual respect, loyalty, and love. Because of this, as well as a mystery, Changeless is a romance -- one that leaves us stunned as we reach the last chapter. It's a bit like a Shakespearean play where you just know that things are not going to be good if people don't talk to each other and of course talking is at the very, very bottom of the TODO list. Knowing we much wait for the next book in the series, Blameless, is bad enough, but the teaser excerpt at the end of Changeless just makes the waiting even more stressful.