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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

'Heartless' Parasol Protectorate #4 by Gail Carriger

Received from the Publisher

From the BLURB:

Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble in the air is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines - and Alexia barely has time to remember she just happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia be able to figure out who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it's too late Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf's clothing And do they really have to take up residence in Lord Akeldama's second best closet.

Lady Alexia Maccon (nee, Tarrabotti) is eight months pregnant and under frequent attack from London’s vampiric society. Her husband, Alpha werewolf and Scottish pragmatist, Conall Maccon suggests putting their unborn child up for adoption . . . to Alexia’s dear vampire dandy friend, Lord Akeldama.

It’s not the best of plans, but it is necessary to placate London vampire society and stop the attacks on her protruding-self. But the adoption will be purely for show – as Alexia and Conall intend to move into the residence next door to Akeldama, and keep up the pretense of adoptive bliss.

But Alexia’s plans are interrupted by a forgetful ghost who has some important information to impart – mainly that there is a plot to kill the Queen and only Alexia can stop it. Oh dear.

‘Heartless’ is the fourth book in Gail Carriger’s ‘Parasol Protectorate’ series.

I love Carriger’s steampunk historical paranormal series. Thus far I haven’t read an installment I haven’t adored, and ‘Heartless’ is more of the same brilliance.

The last book, ‘Blameless’, concentrated heavily on Alexia and her relationship with Conall – particularly because they were separated for so much of the book, and wildly miserable without each other. Carriger takes a different tact in ‘Heartless’, instead bringing many of the beloved secondary characters to the forefront. In particular spotlight are Biffy, Lord Akeldama’s old dove (now turned unwilling werewolf) and Conall’s Beta, second-in-command, Professor Lyall.

I am a big Biffy fan, and in this novel we concentrate a lot on his uneasy transition into the werewolf pack. Poor Biffy was accidentally turned furry, and is unaccustomed to the rough and tumble life of the typical Woolsey werewolf. It has been months since his first turning, and he is still struggling with his moon-changes. Alexia cares a great deal about Biffy, both for Conall’s role in his werewolf-status, and the simple fact that he was a particular pet of Lord Akeldama. In ‘Heartless’ we learn a lot about the werewolf pack, through the eyes of its newest member. And, really, Biffy’s struggles are heartbreaking; particularly where his pining for Akeldama is concerned;

“I had a recent delivery of new fashion plates from Paris, and you hardly glanced at the hairstyles. My husband tells me you are still having difficulty controlling the change. And your cravat has been tied very simply of late, even for evening events.”
“I miss him, my lady.”
“Well, he is now living adjacent. You can hardly miss him all that much.”
“True. But we are no longer compatible – I am a werewolf; he is a vampire.”
“So?”
“So we cannot dance the same dance we used to.” Biffy was so sweet when he tried to be circumspect.
Alexia shook her head at him. “Biffy, and I man this in the kindest way possible: then you should change the music.
“Very good, my lady.”

Professor Lyall is the other focus of the book. For so long he has been a bit of a werewolf-wallflower, always in the background but never a main storyline. Well, all that changes in ‘Heartless’ as Alexia uncovers some uncomfortable truths about her husband’s old pack and best Beta. I loved all the curveballs regarding Lyall – Carriger really pulls out some interesting factoids that were, in hindsight, fairly obvious but made delicious when Carriger brings them to the forefront of Alexia’s mind. . . I won’t give anything away, but I think we’ll be seeing a lot more Lyall in future books.

Now, I did love all of the concentration on two of my favorite second-fiddle characters, Biffy and Lyall. But I did sometimes feel that they were written at the expense of Alexia and Conall. Considering these two were bitterly separated in the previous book, I would have liked a few more scenes of loved-up bliss between them.

Carriger is quite partial to a cliffhanger, and ‘Heartless’ is no different. The book ends on a rather explosive little twist. I don’t know where the fifth book, ‘Timeless’, will go with this inventive curveball . . . but I trust in Carriger completely and I can’t wait to read where she takes her steampunk-spectacular next!

4.5/5

3 comments:

  1. I had to stop reading this series (for now) because of this - " But I did sometimes feel that they were written at the expense of Alexia and Conall. Considering these two were bitterly separated in the previous book, I would have liked a few more scenes of loved-up bliss between them."

    I NEED Alexia and Conall time. So I'm going to wait to see what else happens in the series first. I still love her writing..just not the past two books. :(

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  2. Hmmm...I'm a bit behind on the series but bought this book yesterday. Glad to see you're enjoying them all.

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  3. Awesome Review hon! I agree with you on most of it, but I actually thought we got a ton of Alexia and connall goodness hehe well, it could always be more, but it was awesome! =D

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