Why I Read It: Since falling for this series last year, it’s become an absolute must for me to pick up. Every installment has been vastly entertaining, so I was pleased to get the newest release and to gobble it up right away. Unfortunately, gobbling up the newest installment means I have even longer to wait for book five, but alas . . .
The premise: ganked from BN.com: Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband’s past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux’s latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.
Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf’s clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama’s second best closet?
Spoilers, yay or nay?: Yay, but one little thing about the ending. Still, if you haven’t read this yet and don’t want to be spoiled, I suggest skipping to “My Rating” to stay safe. Everyone else, onward!
Discussion: It doesn’t take very long before I start giggling while reading a Carriger book. Which apparently drives my hubby bonkers, because every time I giggle while reading, he shoots me a look, as if he expects me to explain the joke or humor and let’s be honest, context is king, especially when it comes to Carriger, and by that I mean unless you’re already familiar with her style, gems like the following may not make much sense to your humor.
For example, page 21:
The earl had objected to his wife carrying firearms, until the vampires orchestrated the gravy-boat attack. After that, he took Alexia out behind Woolsey Castle, ordered two members of his pack to run about holding trenchers over their heads, and showed her how to shoot. Then he’d gifted her with a small but elegant gun, American made and delectably deadly. It was a .28 caliber Colt Paterson revolver, customized with a shorter barrel and a pearl handle — the former for ease of concealment and the latter to match Lady Maccon’s hair accessories.
Alexia named the gun Ethel.
Or this, on page 45:
Alexia had found pregnancy relatively manageable, up to a point. That point having been some three weeks ago, at which juncture her natural reserves of control gave way to sentimentality. Only yesterday she had ended breakfast sobbing over the friend eggs because they looked at her funny. The pack had spent a good half hour trying to find a way to pacify her. Her husband was so worried he looked to start crying himself.
I’m thrilled that four books in, and Carriger can make me grin, giggle, and outright laugh. That’s a good sign, which is one of the main reasons this series is such a joy to curl up with. The wit, the humor, the confident storytelling and the way the author blends all of her elements to just the right pitch of funny works so well, and at this point, I’d buy anything Carriger wrote.
I will admit, though, to having trouble remembering what everyone THOUGHT Alexia’s baby was going to be. Soul-stealer? I got the impression that once Prudence was born, she wasn’t what anyone expected, and I’m sitting here trying to figure out if that’s because they were wrong, and she’s NOT a soul-stealer, or if they’re right, but they weren’t expecting the right thing? After all, Prudence’s ability to morph into whatever supernatural entity is holding her seems in line with the “stealing” part, but it seems that goes away as soon as she’s handed back to whomever she belongs to. I had to laugh when she went from baby to puppy to baby at the very end of the book!
At any rate, I suspect we’ll learn a lot more about Prudence and her abilities in the next book, Timeless, and am I wrong in guessing this is going to be it for the series? Not sure why or how I’ve gotten that impression, but I’d be happy if anyone could shed light on this.
Seeing Madame Lefoux as sort of the main villain of the piece was both surprising and not. Not surprising because I knew she was up to something, and that whatever she was involved in had everything to do with whatever Alexia was investigating. Surprised because I didn’t expect the queen in danger to be the vampire queen, and the motivations for even that surprised me as well. Carriger played out that mystery quite well, and the consequences of Lefoux’s plan were quite game-changing, so it’ll be quite interesting to see how all of this plays out in the last book.
And talk about surprises! We learn about Lyall’s past with Alexia’s father, and we learn why Maccon’s former pack tried to poison the Queen all those years ago, which puts Alexia in a difficult position: she’s learned something her husband doesn’t know, and if she reveals it, it could tear the Woosley, now London, Pack apart. Quite literally.
Given that there’s only one book left in the series, I’m rather hoping this doesn’t come up again, because I want to see a neat little happy bow on the end of this series. That’s what the tone seems to promise, and that’s what I want. If the secret does come out, here’s hoping the consequences don’t break my heart, or that perhaps Maccon already knows by nobody KNOWS he knows. That sort of thing.
Oh, the subplots: Felicity’s involvement with the vampires (though the revelation that she stole the journal and leaked Alexia’s pregnancy to the tabloids wasn’t that surprising); Biffy’s struggles in the werewolf world and the tension between him and Lord Akeldama; and of course, the whole housing situation was hysterical.
There’s really not much to say. The book was quite satisfying and a lot of fun, and I have yet to regret picking up this series, which is a relief, because I was convinced that Soulless just wasn’t for me.
My Rating: 9 – Couldn’t Put It Down
As always, Carriger delivers a delightful read. Heartless has a good, engaging mystery and plenty of subplots to keep the reader entertained, the least of which is Alexia’s pregnancy and what her baby might really be. So far, this has been a great series, and if you’ve enjoyed the books that’ve come before, you’ll more than enjoy this one. The cast is utterly entertaining, and Alexia is no damsel in distress. This woman refuses to let anything get in her way, which turns into some really entertaining situations. I can’t wait for the fifth and apparently final book in the series, Timeless, and so far, this is a series I can see myself re-reading over and over again.
Cover Commentary: Of the Parasol Protectorate books, this is my least favorite cover. While I appreciate the angles used to give the illusion of pregnancy (note how her body is turn and how her arm is placed so that her belly isn’t shown), and I like the fact the dress on the cover is actually in the book, I don’t like the post and the coloring doesn’t work well for me. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d day it’s not even the same model, even though it is.