Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1 (The Parasol Protectorate)
by Gail Carriger
Cover Artist: Rem
Review by Gayle Surrette
Yen Press Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316182010
Date: 01 March 2012 List Price $12.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
This month the graphic novel version of Gail Carriger's Soulless is released. I reviewed Soulless, the first book of The Parasol Protectorate in our October 2009 issue. At the time it stood out from other Victiorian steam punk-ish fantasy with werewolves and vampires because of its witty dialogue, play on the mores of the era, and the intriguing variations on the standard tropes. There are now five books in the series and it still stands out from the pack for those same reasons.
The story is the same as the text version, only now we have illustrations to carry some of the wittiness by adding sight gags. Not really so much gags as where speech and actions don't exactly align. I found the characters to be well defined by the drawings, with some exceptions. While the gamine features of Lord Akeldama were exactly what I expected, I did expect a more chiseled countenance for Lord Conal Maccon. Alexia Taraboti was pretty much as I thought she'd be. And, if you're wondering -- Ivy Hisselpenny's hats are indeed atrociously outrageous.
Alexia is a preternatural, or a person without a soul. She conducts herself with great detail to the mores of society so as not to offend because of her condition. Lord Maccon often shows up at the same events in society and she finds him offensive and troublesome. She's friends with Lord Akeldama, a rove vampire who owes no allegiance to a hive, and loves gossip -- collecting it, not necessarily sharing it.
The main problem is that vampires are showing up who are not following the dictates of 'good' vampire behavior. They attack to drink blood without even introducing themselves first. One of them attacks Alexia and she kills him. Lord Maccon becomes involved in the investigations. These vampires don't belong to the local hive -- someone or some group is making them and setting them loose, untrained and starving.
Alexia and Lord Maccon manage to put aside their differences in order to solve this puzzle. Meanwhile getting to know each other and scandalizing Alexia's family and Lord Maccon's pack.
This graphic novel of Soulless maintains the fun, wit, and action of the original novel while adding art to add to the enjoyment of the story.