Release Date: July 1, 2011
Series: #4 of The Parasol Protectorate
More Info: Amazon The Book Depository
***The blurb and the review contain spoilers for the previous books. The review does not contain spoilers for this book.***
Book Blurb (from Goodreads):
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?
I think my favorite thing about these books is the dialogue. It's sharp, witty and laugh out loud funny. Carriger has a knack, both for spoken dialogue and internal dialogue. Alexia's state of soullessness (is that even a word? :D) allows her to say things that would ordinarily be rude or inappropriate. Add in the Victorian mindset and behavior, tweaked to suit the steampunk changes and urban fantasy changes dictated by the story, and there is a lot of material for lampooning or just gently poking fun at.
Though, sometimes, it's the Victorian mindset and behavior that make me laugh, especially combined with Alexia's perspective on things. Like Alexia, I enjoy my food and it's refreshing to see a fictional character who admits to being hungry and spends a good deal of her time thinking about food. Her pregnancy has only increased this tendency, with sometimes hilarious results. I also like that Alexia is not a skinny Minnie nor does she meet the beauty standard for her time but her husband Conall finds her gorgeous and desirable anyway.
In this book, Carriger turns her attention to many of the secondary characters, after focusing on Alexia and Conall in the previous book, "Blameless". We see more of and learn more about Biffy, Professor Lyall (should I admit I have small crush on him?), Alexia's father, Madame LeFoux, and Lord Akeldama. I love that Carriger develops them and doesn't just leave them as vaguely sketched, or stereotypical, back up characters. We also get to meet see the Hive and learn more about them.
The story is a mix of action, mostly murder attempts on various people, Alexia getting into various predicaments (not that we expect anything else) and a lot of dialogue. The story moves slowly at times, and like the others could benefit from trimming, but overall it's fun, smart and very enjoyable. I was very surprised by the solution that Conall came up with for ending the vampires continually attacks on Alexia, I have mixed feelings about it. The ending, while not the cliffhanger we've come to expect, is nevertheless a tricky twist and sets up some interesting changes in Alexia's world. Carriger didn't hesitate to make major changes in her world and I am looking forward to seeing how things work out.
The steampunk inventions are fun to read about but they don't overshadow the story; I find that sometimes in steampunk, the author can get so carried away making the story steampunk, that the story and characterization suffer. Happily, Carriger has found a balance.
I received this paperback from the publisher for review.