‘Prudence’ is book one in the new ‘Custard Protocol’ series by Gail Carriger, which focuses on Prudence Alessandra Macon Akeldama (Alexia Tarabotti’s metanatural daughter from ‘The Parasol Protectorate’). In this book, we follow Rue (Prudence), her best friend Primrose Tunstall, Percy Tunstall (Primrose’s twin brother) and Quesnal Lefoux as they are sent to India in search of a rare tea by Rue’s Uncle Lord Akeldama. Or are they really there as a spying mission for a secret society? To be honest, I’m not sure anyone knows! Rue as a metanatural has the power to steal the powers of any creature of a not entirely natural persuasion that she touches. For example, if she were to touch a vampire (who would call her, amongst other things, a soul stealer) she would be able to steal their vampiric abilities until one of a few things happens either she touches another supernatural creature, moves too far away from the original victim or until sunrise. If she touches a werewolf or other were-creature, the same would happen but they would call her a flayer.
In order to get the best out of this book, I do think you need to have read at least ‘The Parasol Protectorate’, otherwise you will be missing out on a lot of the background that is merely hinted at in this first book of the series. To be honest, even I, as a reader of the previous series could have done with a little bit more background and memory jogs. I did find myself floundering a little sometimes, having to look back at fan websites to see who a particular character was and a little bit about them.
I did enjoy some parts of the story, particularly the threat to Percy that he would be walled up in a room made of books and made to read himself out. That is not a punishment in my mind! Also, his cat being called Footnote is too cute! Percy also has one of the best cataloguing and book accessing systems I’ve ever heard of and I want one in my house.
I also enjoyed catching glimpses of characters from the previous series, even though it was mostly in passing. Seeing how they reacted to Prudence and her abilities was interesting to say the least. Carriger always manages to link her books using the different characters that appear in them all, I’m not sure how she manages to keep tabs on them all to be honest.
Fans of the more steampunk aspects of Carriger’s work will be pleased to know that we learn a lot more about how dirigibles work along with the different airflow systems up in the aerosphere that they use to get around. I did enjoy this, now I know far more than I ever wanted to know about this aspect of the books.
Overall, ‘Prudence’ is another comedy of very polite errors which is what Carriger excels at. Yes, there are daft comments about facial hair being facial topiary and lots of things about different clothes, hats and tea things that can only be used at particular times of day but, if you don’t enjoy this, I suggest you look elsewhere for entertainment.
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(pub: Orbit, 2015. 343 page paperback. Price: (UK). ISBN: 978- 0-35650-179-6
check out website: http://www.orbit.net