Review: Heartless (Parasol Protectorate #4) by Gail Carriger

I managed to read another book. This time I read Heartless by Gail Carriger as part of the Steampunk Reading Challenge! Originally I selected only the first two books of Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, but after reading Soulless I was hooked on the series and subsequently read Changeless and Blameless.

Heartless is clearly a steampunk novel, not just because it features all kinds of dirigibles and steam powered machines but because it distinctly has  the scientific flair that defines the genre in general. Heartless picks up right where the last Parasol Protectorate left off…with protagonist Lady Alexia ‘soulless’ Tarabotti Maccon pregnant and trying to avoid all hell breaking loose in the British empire!

Alexia is assaulted by zombie-like porcupines and almost killed…knowing that she and her unborn child are in grave danger it is at that point that Alexia and her werewolf husband Lord Maccon, agree to give custody over to Alexia’s vampire BFF and fine British ‘dandy’….Lord Akeldama. Soon Alexia is visited by a ghost and informed of a plan to kill the Queen. As head woman in charge of Queen Victoria’s supernatural empire more or less, it is Alexia’s duty to solve the case.

Alexia is once again stuck in the middle of supernatural politics all set against an industrious Victorian London backdrop…..complete with all the favorite steampunk devices….dirigibles, steam powered technology, and random futuristic machines such as the octomaton, a mono-wheel cycle (complete with a steam powered propeller), and the quintessential glassicles.

In this book, I feel like we got quite a few things answered (example, who stole Alexia’s journal from the previous books). Many of the characters also had closer from many of the ‘loose ends’ that we were all wondering about….such as Biffy, how will he ever learn to move on from Lord Akeldama now that he is a werewolf???

It looks like love is in the air for Biffy and Professor Lyall :), Madam LeFoux seems to have accepted the fact that her and Alexia will never ‘be’ and she seems to take it well (more or less LOL). So I felt like lots of old drama was settled with the potential for new beginnings on the horizon.

The only criticism I had about this book was the whole past pack drama between Lord Maccon and Professor Lyall…..I felt like that was a HUGE part of the story and it seemed a little ‘glossed’ over and rushed for me….I am wondering if more will come out in future books. I know that Professor Lyall ‘betrayed’ Lord Maccon and tricked him into fighting their old pack master but I just couldn’t buy into the significance of this event in the book.

Madam LeFoux’s character really took a turn in this book. I kind of sensed it was coming after Changeless but I really wasn’t prepared for how she went in this book, and I felt like it was sad about how Alexia just kind of wrote her off entirely…..not without merit of course but still, it’s always sad when friendships end, especially when there was obvious affection between the two.

Madam LeFoux is one of the characters who really makes this book steampunk in nature…..she is the stereotypical ‘mad scientist’. She makes all these futuristic machines and really puts the focus of the series on science and supernaturalism which is what steampunk is all about.  I loved that she was a smart sophisticated woman working in a “man’s” field and I think having such contrasting female characters such as Ivy (the typical Victorian woman) and then having an in between female protagonist such as Alexia really made their difference and similarities more apparent.

At any rate, the book and the series are great. Something else which really endears the series to me is the authors attention to her series. Gail Carriger runs an amazing website and blog with pictures of how she sees the characters and sketches or inspiration for her ‘world’. I think that goes a long way….for me anyway….into creating a world truly unique and almost more ‘real’. You can really get a feel for the characters and the series when you read her blog and webpage so I recommend checking both of them out if you are interested in the series. Honestly, her website made me that much more excited about the upcoming books and really want to read the series in general….I can’t say that about a lot of authors but for her I can!! 🙂

Overall it was a great book and another wonderful installment to the series. Though personally my two favorites in the series were Soulless (of course) and ChangelessBlameless was a little ‘meah’ for me but this one did recapture some of the same chemistry in the first two books. I am excited to read the next installment of the series Timeless due out in March 2012. If you are a fan of Victorian fiction and fantasy lit, check this book out you will NOT be disappointed :).

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Heartless (Parasol Protectorate #4) by Gail Carriger 

  • Kindle Edition, 374 pages
  • Published July 1st 2011 by Orbit
  • ASIN B0047Y0EZQ

This book counts toward: Steampunk Reading Challenge

Recommendation: 4 out of 5 (great if you are a fan of gothic fiction and/or gaslamp fantasy and steampunk….and if you have read the other books in the series)

Genre: Sci Fi,  Steampunk, Gaslight Fiction, Victorian Literature

Memorable lines/quotes:

5 thoughts on “Review: Heartless (Parasol Protectorate #4) by Gail Carriger

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