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Sunday, March 18, 2012

'Timeless' The Parasol Protectorate #5 by Gail Carriger

 Received from the Publisher

From the BLURB:

Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire's second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell's acting troupe's latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a dampener on Alexia's enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle.

What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?

Alexia Tarabotti has not always had an easy life. Of course she used to be a spinster… but then she fell in love with London’s infamous Alpha werewolf, Conall Maccon, and since then it has been nothing but mechanized ladybugs, cursed mummies and exploding parasols. But nothing, absolutely nothing, could have prepared Lord and Lady Maccon for the whirlwind terror that is … their daughter, Prudence.

Though they share responsibility for the little soulless ragamuffin with her vampiric stepfather, Lord Akeldama, Prudence is still a handful (particularly come bath time).

But it appears as though Prudence’s notoriety has spread. One of the oldest vampire queens has requested the presence of Alexia and Conall’s soulless offspring – in Egypt, no less!

So, along with Ivy Tunstell’s acting troupe as cover, and with Madame Lefoux representing the London vampire hive, the Maccon family are off to Alexandria, for an audience with a very different sort of queen…

‘Timeless’ is the fifth and, sadly, last novel in Gail Carriger’s wonderful ‘Parasol Protectorate’ series.

I have been with Carriger’s series from the very beginning, and while I was sad to read it’s end, I was delighted (but not in the least bit surprised!) to read Alexia & Co going out on a bang! ‘Timeless’ involves hot air balloon escapes, Nile river cruises and a cute-as-a-button soulless werewolf pup. Secrets are unearthed, fences mended and the romance we’ve all been waiting for comes to fruition.

‘Timeless’ is set a while after ‘Heartless’. Prudence is a toddler, running amok, and causing extreme havoc when she accidentally makes skin-to-skin contact with one of her many supernatural babysitters. Lord Akeldama is her stepfather, but a secret plank between Akeldama and the Maccon’s houses means that Alexia and Conall are an equally constant presence in her life. When Alexia and Prudence are summoned to Alexandria, Egypt, because the oldest vampire Queen known to man has taken an interest in her, they are wary but know the visit must go ahead.

While Alexia and her family, along with Ivy Tunstell’s acting acting troupe (and her family) go traipsing all over Egypt, equally fascinating happenings are occurring in London.
The dark-eyed drone came closer. She looked to Conall first.
"Lord Maccon, you are welcome to Alexandria. It has been many centuries since a werewolf visited this hive. We hope it will not be so long before the next one graces us with his presence."
Lord Maccon bowed. "I suspect," he said, because he had no tact, "that will rather depend on the course of this evening's events."
The drone inclined her head and turned dark eyes to Alexia. "Lady Maccon, soul-sucker. You, too, are welcome. We do not judge the daughter by the father's actions."
"Well, thank you I'm sure. Especially as I never knew him."

Biffy, one of the newest and most reluctant new werewolves of the Woolsey pack, runs Madame Lefoux’s old hat shop, but has been asked by Alexia to keep an eye on things while she’s away. Biffy’s instructions has him keeping a particularly close eye on Alexia’s cagey butler, Floote, and crossing paths with Conall’s Beta, Professor Lyall as secrets about Conall’s Alpha history are revealed, with devastating consequences….

‘Timeless’ is a spectacular swan song. I loved Alexia’s time in Egypt, if only because we get to read about a very different steampunked country and how Gail Carriger’s warped history appears overseas. But I was surprised to find that, while I did enjoy reading about Alexia, Prudence and Conall meeting the oldest and scariest vampire Queen alive… my interest was mostly drawn to Biffy and Lyall back in London.

Aside from the scrumptious sugar drop that is Lord Akeldama, Biffy and Lyall are probably my other two favourite characters in the ‘Parasol Protectorate’. So I was beyond delighted when these two started making puppy-dog eyes (literally) at one another in ‘Timeless’. They are so darn cute together, and I will have my fingers firmly crossed for a short story, novella or (pretty please!) spin-off series with these two. Their love affair absolutely steals the show and I hope we have not read the last of this power couple…

‘Timeless’ is an absolutely scrumptious read. There were moments and revelations that had my jaw dropping. The still steamy romance between Alexia and Conall is as sweet (and bumpy) as ever, while Biffy and Lyall’s canoodling is deserving of fan-girl squeals of delight. Prudence is a toddler du-jour and the trip to Egypt is ingenious. ‘Timeless’ is a most befitting conclusion to an epic steampunk paranormal series.

Now, I should say that while ‘Timeless’ is the last we’ll hear of Alexia for the time being, Ms Carriger has said on her website that she’d like to write more books and short stories within her steampunk world (past or future?). And a novel about Alexia’s mysterious absentee father is not out of the question… And the ‘Parasol Protectorate’ world lives on, with a manga adaptation of Gail Carriger’s toe-curlingly good series now available. ‘Timeless’ is not, technically, the last we will see of Alexia Tarabotti and friends. And it’s certainly not the last chance fans will have to get lost in Carriger’s marvellously imagined steampunk world. But ‘Timeless’ is the end of Alexia and Conall’s story. And what a grand adventure it has been!


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