"Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she is being rudely attacked by a vampire to whom she has not been properly introduced! Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire, and the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?"
This is the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series from Gail Carriger. It's part urban fantasy, historical fantasy, part steampunk and I love it. It's written in third person, and takes a little getting used to as the characters are most commonly referred to by their titles, rather than first names. It's fun and adds to the tone of the book, but it is slightly strange for the first chapter or so. Set in London, England during Victorian times, vampires and werewolves are known members of society. Then there is Alexia Tarabotti, a preternatural. She's soulless and as such, when she touches a supernatural, they become more or less human for the time she is in contact with them. All abilities connected to the supernatural, disappear, like say, a vampires fangs. Which amuses me a lot, though I'm not too sure why. Anyway, Alexia is a bit of a loud mouth with a serious intellect for science, standing out from the majority of London's upper class with her darker skin and attitude. It more often than not gets her in a little trouble, but she is also very strict with her manners, as any proper Victorian lady should be.
When Miss Tarabotti finds herself in the middle of a BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry) case involving disappearing werewolves and vampires, she can't help trying to find out more. Must to the frustrations of Alpha wolf and high ranking BUR agent, Lord Maccon. He does his best to keep Alexia out of trouble and safe whilst attempting to get to the bottom of the problem.
I loved this book from start to finish. It's funny, snappy, with great characters and a solid plot. While manners and decorum play a part in the book, they don't give it a stuffy air. It's wickedly fun and there are some surprising twists along the way. Alexia is a great main character with her spark and wit, along with some deep built insecurities which make her very real. Lord Maccon is just plain delicious. And leading vampire is Lord Akeldama, a flashy rove vampire (unattached to a 'hive') who is a great friend of Alexia's. He is very entertaining with his nicknames and the delight he takes from being the one to know as much as possible about what's going on where, and with who.
It's an easy book to get sucked in to, with the action starting on page one and never really letting up. I had a hard time putting this book down. I love the ending in that it fairly neatly wraps this book up, but gives great hints to whats to come in the next book. I'm not normally much of a fan of anything set in the past, but this, despite it's setting, is still urban fantasy and great urban fantasy at that. It's very different and it makes for a great change of pace to the usual books in the UF range. If you like the genre, then this book should be a must read for you. I can't wait to get my hands on the second book, Changeless and I'm already looking forward to Blameless, book 3, in September as well!