Werewolves, vampires, romance, and intrigue – a truly excellent combination! This flirty paranormal romance is the first of a series of books (The Parasol Protectorate) set in an alternate reality Victorian England. The heroine, Alexia Tarabotti, is a well-educated, young woman of good family who is rapidly approaching spinsterhood at the age of 24. Alexia has much to commend her including intelligence, a gorgeous wardrobe (described in great detail by Carriger), social standing, and a truly excellent weapon masquerading as a parasol. She does, however, lack a soul. In Carriger’s alternate reality, Tarabotti’s soullessness gives her a few unique charastics that make her of interest to the local supernatural community and it’s opponents. Add a plot and a scruffy but commanding aristocratic werewolf as a potential romantic interest, and what you get is a truly entertaining tale.
Carriger does a great job of simultaneously introducing her world of vampires, werewoves and preternaturals, moving her plot along, and developing her characters. While I found myself invested in the romance of Tarabotti and Maccon (the scruffy but noble werewolf), I was pleasantly surprised to find myself equally interested in several other supporting characters. She pokes a bit of fun at Victorian propriety all while allowing us to delight in the rich and colorful fabrics, bustles, and hats of the Victorian era.
I found little that I did not enjoy in this book. The language was a little stilted and maybe pretentious, but it only added to my enjoyment of the book. It seemed to be another little poke at the silliness of some Victorian customs.
I’m looking forward to reading Carriger’s second Parasol Protectorate book. If you enjoy the sub-genre Urban Fantasy, then this a must-have addition for your library. The Victorian angle mingled with fantasy may intrigue you Steampunkers, as well.
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