All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Changeless – Gail Carriger

on December 24, 2010

Changeless picks up several months after the marriage of Alexia and Lord Maccon. Alexia wakes one afternoon to find her husband bellowing and stumbling about the bedroom before he disappears briskly on pack business. Alexia then discovers she has quite a few things to deal with – a large arm of the pack arriving back from fighting in India and camping out on her front lawn, her good friend Ivy Hisselpenny’s bethrothal but obvious affection towards Lord Maccon’s valet and as she soon, finds, several other more serious and distressing elements.

Firstly, a wave of humanity has swept through the supernatural fraternity of London, rendering the supernaturals, vampire and werewolves alike, back to their human forms. The weres are unable to change, not even a little bit and the vampires are withdrawing to their hives to figure things out. At first suspicion is put upon Alexia herself, as being a preternatural (no soul, versus an abundance of soul, which vampires and werewolves have). A preternatural can render a werewolf or vampire human but skin contact must be made and Alexia points out, quite rightly, that she cannot be in many places at once, touching all the supernatural population. Whatever is causing this, it isn’t her – and she decides to investigate as Queen Victoria’s muhjah and find out precisely what is going on.

When Alexia receives word that her husband has gone north to Scotland to fix a problem with a pack up there that have lost their Alpha and are indulging in behaviour not acceptable, she decides to follow him. She’s heard that the wave of humanity, as such, is making its way north also and she thinks she might be able to kill two birds with one stone – find her wayward and errant husband and also solve this problem of humanity. Unfortunately she is burdened on this journey – by dirigible no less – by her younger and extremely irritating and silly sister Felicity and Miss Hisselpenny, who has invited herself along when she discovers that Alexia is taking Lord Maccon’s valet Tunstell. On board the dirigible, Alexia finds herself running into Madame Lefoux, a French milliner/inventer who dresses as a man and who has supplied Alexia -at Lord Maccon’s request- with her latest parasol. The parasol contains all sorts of hidden pockets and weapons and Alexia has become very fond of it. She is however, quite suspicious of the Frenchwoman, who cannot really provide much of a reason for being on the dirigible with them and who seems to have some sort of past with Alexia’s French maid Angelique. Add in someone trying to kill her, both on the dirigible and in Scotland and it seems that once again Alexia has gotten herself into some trouble. Nothing that a cup of tea won’t fix though.

I enjoyed Soulless very much and requested Changeless and Blameless together from my local library. Unfortunately, Changeless was a lost item for a while so Blameless came in first – way, way before this one. I skimmed through it, there by spoiling the end of Changeless for myself but I’ve never been a person bothered by spoilers. And actually, reading Blameless before this one gave me a very clear view of what I enjoy about the Parasol Protectorate novels.

I like Alexia. She’s strong and confident and a very witty and intelligent protagonist. She also isn’t stupid, or prone to doing ridiculous things for the most part. She’s been burdened with an entirely ridiculous family who do nothing but belittle her and lament her appearance and she’s also a preternatural which generally means at least one person or supernatural being wants her dead at any given time. I love her wit and her outlook on life and her sarcasm and forthright demeanor. I also love her interactions with Lord Maccon (or did, until the very close of this novel, but that’s a spoiler for those who haven’t read this) and the parts of this book that I most enjoyed, were parts that had Alexia and Conall together.

It’s a big thing, to wrap up the romance part of a series in the first novel. After that sometimes it feels like an author is trying too hard to create a conflict or distance (be that distance physical or or emotional) between them so that the reading audience doesn’t get bored. I’m not one of those people. In fact manufactured absences in books annoy me immensely. A good couple is to me, reading gold. I like a good sexual tension storyline, and even a love triangle if there is a definitive ending as much as the next person. But I also don’t lose interest when the couple gets together. In this novel, Alexia and Conall spend probably a third of the book together and I can honestly say that part of the book was without a doubt, the part I enjoyed the most. It is possible to keep a couple together but still throw in interesting obstacles for them along the way. Immediately dispatching one of the main characters mere pages into a book is never my favourite drawn-out plot device.

The characters in this novel grated on my nerves a bit, barring Alexia and Conall. Ivy, who was fresh and amusing in the first novel, seemed to have undergone a lobotomy shortly before this novel commenced and added nothing to the narrative except fainting, some mild hysteria, ugly hats and completely inane, infuriating comments. Alexia’s sister Felicity was likewise uninteresting and unnecessary to the plot and did nothing but faff around and occasionally insult her sister. Why Alexia didn’t bean her with the parasol, I don’t know. I certainly wanted to.

I did enjoy the story and the telling of it. Paced well, just the right amount of humour and charming Englishness. It’s very clever and the world Carriger inhabits is an interesting one. The dirigible and things like Madame Lefoux’s inventions and Alexia’s parasol add great colour and an interesting dash to this type of story and I fully appreciate these little touches. The humour is occasionally, a little too much but Carriger seems to know just when to rein it in and switch course.

As I mentioned, I’ve read Blameless already (review will be coming of that one soon) and I’m looking forward to Heartless, released midway through 2011.

7/10 (would’ve been an 8 without the fussing of both Ivy and Alexia’s sister)

Book #123 of 2010

One response to “Changeless – Gail Carriger

  1. hrose2931 says:

    I’m having a hard time getting into even the first one of this series. Please tell me that they get easier to read. I really thought I’d love this series but the humor is maybe above my head or maybe just too much or too dry. I’ll press on hoping the second is easier to read than the first.

    Heather Rosdol

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