I came upon Gail Carriger in 2011 when I had entered a Steampunk reading challenge. She was an author I would never have picked up on my own but as soon as I read the first book, I was completely hooked and so thankful that I had stumbled upon both the reading challenge and her books!
Since then I have read just about everything she has put out, with the exception of The Custard Protocol series. When this book came up for review, I was a little worried because it’s the third in the series…..a series which I haven’t even read though the world sounded the same and Carriger’s writing is always top shelf so I decided to give it a go.
All alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail.When she uncovers rumors of a new kind of vampire, Prim and the Custard crew embark on a mission to Peru. There, they encounter airship pirates and strange atmospheric phenomena, and are mistaken for representatives of the Spanish Inquisition. Forced into extreme subterfuge (and some rather ridiculous outfits) Prim must also answer three of life’s most challenging questions:
Can the perfect book club give a man back his soul?
Will her brother ever stop wearing his idiotic velvet fez?
And can the amount of lard in Christmas pudding save an entire species? (summary from Goodreads).
So I gather that this book, while part of a series, is more about one character in a series of Custard Crew characters if that makes sense. While there are clearly things that I am missing out on by having not read the first few books, I didn’t feel overwhelmed with the plot and characters. As I suspected, the world is the same throughout many of her books so trying to get my bearings in this book wasn’t difficult.
I am a relative newbie when it comes to Steampunk culture (though truth be told I love it) and books. One of the things I like most about Steampunk is how it incorporates science and technology and this book did both perfectly. I love how Carriger blends dirigibles and other science-y things with the supernatural…..that’s one of the things that I love about her writing abilities……they are so realistic yet they also have so many fantasy hallmarks—-she blends both to perfection.
Carriger is someone I feel like I would be great friends with in the real world. Like someone who I would call up and ask over for tea. She has this easy, approachable way about her and that same approachability carries over into her characters. In all of her books, I have found at least one character that I am dying to meet IRL. They are all memorable and fun in their own way and in this book, I expected nothing less. Prim seemed like someone I would also want to take out for tea—she was relatable and I loved getting to know her!
I also loved that this book also had a little bit of romance. Carriger always does romance so well…..elegant yet steamy without being vulgar. I would say that this book is more for an adult audience but is not too racy for older teens.
This was everything I’ve come to expect from Carriger……imaginative, with loads and loads of adventure, a little tastefully done romance, and a seamless blend of Steampunk and fantasy in a unified world. I can’t wait to read more of her books and am looking into the other books in this series so I can get all caught up before the 4th book comes out!
Book: Competence (Custard Protocol #3) by Gail Carriger
Kindle Edition, 309 pagesPublished July 17th 2018 by Orbit
- Review copy provided by: publisher/author in exchange for an honest review
Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5
Genre: Steampunk, fantasy, vampire lit
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