Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate)
by Gail Carriger
Cover Artist: Photo: Pixie Vision Productions
Review by Gayle Surrette
Orbit Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316127196
Date: 01 July 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Now that the paternity of Alexia's child is settled – not that there was any doubt – she's back on the shadow council, hugely pregnant, due at any time, and as usual in the thick of a conspiracy. This time it looks like there's to be an attempt on the queen's life and it might be connected to her husband's past.
As if that wasn't enough to worry about, the attempts on her life and that of her unborn child are continuing even though the vampires had agreed to wait to see just what the child of a soulless would be like before deciding to do away with the supposed abomination. You can imagine her response when she learns that Professor Lyall and her husband are planning to turn the child over to Lord Akeldama for adoption once Alexia gives birth.
From reading the books, Alexia Tarabotti Maccon may be a soulless but she is certainly not heartless. Rather, I'd say she's a pragmatist who, when faced with a situation, acts rationally and without regard to the emotional entanglements that others might allow to cloud their judgment. Thus, she deals with her husband's and his beta's plans for her child, digs to uncover the who and why of the assassination plot on the queen, tries to deal with her sister who is acting very out of character – all while attempting to figure out what's got her friend Madame Lefoux working such long hours.
Once again, Carriger's managed to surprise and delight with her Parasol Protectorate series' latest offering, Heartless. Alexia is a delight as she manages to be a force unto herself while believing that she fits the image of the perfect Victorian woman of means. Alexia stands at that cusp where women were supposed to be ornaments to their families and, later, husbands, and when they began to demand equality and the vote. Society is changing and Alexia is a bellwether even in a slightly altered society that incorporates vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and technology.
If you haven't had the pleasure of enjoying Alexia's company on one of her adventures, you're in for a treat. If you've read the other books in the series, what are you waiting for? Dive in and enjoy.