Author: Gail Carriger
Review Summary: It was everything I hoped for – awesome integration of a steampunk society with supernatural elements plus hilarious characters.
“First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.” Alexia is afflicted with these and a variety of other social stigmas which she bravely soldiers through, all while dealing with suspicion that she is responsible for recent vampire disappearances. She handles even the most uncouth behavior with remarkable poise, a sharp wit, and a sense of humor. And somehow, in the midst of it all, she manages to begin a startlingly wonderful romance.
I’ve found that with most books, my first impression is very similar to my final impression. Not so in this case. Initially the writing felt too precise, almost stilted, and the humor felt a trifle forced. Even from the beginning I could tell the writing captured the formality of language and the social mores of someone from the Victorian era beautifully. I just wasn’t sure I liked that about it. As I became more immersed in the society the author created and got to know our main character, I also slowly fell in love with the writing. As I grew to like our main character, I started to appreciate the way the book captured her tone of voice. And it quickly became clear that the humor wasn’t forced, but dependent on an understanding of the characters and society the lived in.
Speaking of the characters! I’m usually happy if an author develops a few minor characters well. In this book, every character that got a name, also got a unique and memorable personality. Their interactions and Alexia’s running commentary provided most of the humor for which this book is known. For those of you who are in it for the romance, I think there will be enough here to satisfy. Alexia’s relationship develops in a very slow and natural way. It’s a very cute relationship, with much humor and misunderstandings but without becoming frustrating to watch. It’s also a much steamier relationship then I expected from our Victorian era heroine. Less surprisingly, the relationship power balance is very equal, since Alexia is clearly not your usual meek Victorian era woman. For those of you who are in it for the steampunk adventure and are worried that the cute, steamy relationship will take away from that – don’t be! The romance and adventure play very nicely together, with neither stealing the spot light. Just one more of the many reasons this was such a great read.