This is book two in ‘The Parasol Protectorate’, following on from ‘Soulless’. In all there are five books in the series, this is something I have to say I like, an author who knows when to finish a series of books. This is a series that needs to be read in order or you won’t be able to fully understand the relationships Alexia has with the other characters. Things do run from one book to the other, so they wouldn’t make much sense read as standalone novels.
Just as a heads up there will be spoilers in this review that relate to previous books in the series, I’m sorry but there is nothing I can do about this other than warn. Stop reading now if you haven’t read book one! Go and read book one, Soulless’, and then you can come back and enjoy a second helping of Alexia in book two, ‘Changeless’!
This novel begins with Alexia and her husband Lord Maccon being woken abruptly from their day’s sleep, mostly by Lord Maccon’s overloud yelling. This is shortly followed by Lord Maccon making a hurried exit from the bedroom with no explanation to his wife, leaving her in a bit of a bad mood. This is not helped when she steps outside her beautiful country house on the way to meet Queen Victoria to be met with the sight of a whole front lawn filled with human and werewolf soldiers setting up camp. This is further exacerbated by the arrival of her best friend, Ivy, wearing one of her most horrid hats, announcing that she has news!
We’re still in the alternate Victorian setting along with the vampires and werewolves and, of course, the still soulless Alexia Tarabotti now Lady Maccon. However, we also now have a ghost or two in the mix and we’re taken on a trip to Scotland. Just as a quick reminder, Alexia is a preternatural so is able to nullify any supernatural powers just by touching said supernatural. She is very unusual in having this skill. In fact, she is one of the only known preternaturals in England. This obviously makes her a bit of a target and, if that isn’t bad enough, she is now married to the Alpha of her local werewolf pack who happens to decide to run off at the very beginning of this book. As Alexia is now the Alpha female, we learn a great deal more about how the pack functions and a few more of the different characters within the pack, including the incredibly rude Major Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings also known as the pack Gamma. Alexia is also the muhjah on the shadow council and her husband is the head of the BUR which allows us to learn loads more about how this version of Victorian England and Scotland deal with giving order to the less human subjects.
I love the way Gail Carriger manages to make everything funny, I think this is because everything is said in a very Victorian way but tongue in cheek at the same time eg ‘with Ivy walking backward before them and weaving side to side like an iced tea cake with delusions of shepherding.’ She manages to talk about characters lovely bottoms and sexual behaviour without actually mentioning bottoms or sex! I have no idea how she manages it but she is a master. The way she describes almost anything seems to be done so properly, with absolutely no swearing or crudeness and yet it’s so entertaining. I just wish I could spend a day with Alexia and Ivy, even hat shopping seems to bring its own set of surprises, not withstanding Ivy’s completely awful taste in hats. Tiny feather bees, I ask you! What with all the supernatural creatures combined with the Victorian politeness, it must be like living in a slightly scarier version of ‘Downton Abbey’!
I’m probably not meant to mention the covers because I guess they would be different in different countries but I really do love the UK covers. They really are very steampunk and give you a taste of what to expect in the book. I am also completely in love with all the dresses. I know they must be really uncomfortable but they just look so beautiful!
Overall, this is a very witty addition to the series, I enjoyed it immensely and I can’t wait to get my teeth (sorry) into the next one!