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My friend Alex asked “What Should I Read Next?” on her blog http://www.lateenough.com (by the way I would love to embed these websites, but I am not that technically savvy… sorry!).  Anyway, I am going to recommend Soulless by Gail Carriger.

I am actually reading the 3rd book in the series right now… “Blameless.”  Alex is in a real pickle this time.  She is shamed by the headlines and forced to leave London and flee to the religious order (the Templars) to get the answers she needs and to protect her from the vampire hives set on killing her.  Alas, though I cannot say much more because I am not sure if you have read the first two novels yet, and I would surely hate to ruin those for you.

So let me start with Soulless….

Even though I was intrigued with this book, I have to admit I was a bit scared off from trying it due to its “steampunk” references.  Wikipedia says steampunk is a sub-genre of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Alternative History, and Speculative fiction.  It also says “Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually the Victorian era Britain—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy.”

Personally, I have not had much luck with Science Fiction books (I think of the time I tried to read “The Enders Game”).  When it comes to pop culture, let’s just say my husband cringes when I say I don’t remember much about the Star Wars movies (that I saw when I was 10 or so).  If I got a Star Trek question on Trivial Pursuit I would bet money I would not be able to answer it correctly.  All of this are reasons why I know I am not as cool as my husband.  Luckily, I do tend to like the other genres though and I can name a few Science Fiction books I have really liked.

I have to admit, that it was a “Castle” episode that made me pick up Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate, #1) and give it a try.  It was something about the steampunk party that he attended that made me think that the book may be fun to read.  Really, I think going to a steampunk party would be so fun ({sigh} sometimes I wish I lived in a bigger city).  Enough getting sidetracked, Let’s get back to Soulless.   It also boasted Vampires and Werewolves (which I love).  I have admit that the vampires don’t sparkle, so hopefully that fact will not disappoint you. It does have a character, Lord Akeldama, who is like a vampire Elton John (who is pretty sparkly in his own way).  Personally, I will take Lord Akeldama any day over his sparkly cousins.

Now the theory behind the supernatural species in these books is simple… they have more soul.  Thus, really creative, smart, and eccentric people tend to have a better chance of becoming supernatural.  Alex is the opposite… she has no soul and she is like the antidote.  When she touches anything supernatural they return to being ordinary.  Having no soul also makes her extremely practical, or at least that is what it seems like in the first book.  I seem to think that she seems practical because she lives with her mother and two silly sisters… which makes her strive to be anything other than being like them.  Alex does not try to fit in to the norms society places on women at that time.  She does not care if people talk about her because she speaks up matters of concern, rather than worrying about never finding someone to marry her (which her family believes is the worse thing that could happen to her).

I also love that the other characters are very interesting.  I mentioned Lord Akeldama already, but  you will also meet Genevieve Lefoux, a hat maker and inventor who likes to wear men’s clothes so she also bucks the society’s norms (she has an even bigger roles in Changeless and Blameless).   Of course, there are the werewolves as well, Lord Maccon and Professor Lyall. Lord Maccon is the Alpha werewolf of the Woolsey pack and can seriously use a lesson on Victorian Etiquette, but that is why I personally loved his character.  He is balanced by Professor Lyall, who is well dressed, well mannered, and really intelligent.

So there you have it… Why Alex should read this book and why I think I may dress in a little steampunk number this Halloween (or sooner if I happen to here of a Steampunk Party in the area).  I have already gotten a few catalogues full of Halloween costumes for the kids in the mail so I guess modern commerce and marketing would like me to start planning!