Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1 ~ Gail Carriger

  • Title:  Soulless: The Mnnga, Vol. 1
  • Author:  Gail Carriger
  • Series:  The Parasol Protectorate Manga #1
  • Genre:  Graphic Novel, Manga, Fantasy
  • Format:  Paperback
  • Source:  Own Copy
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating:  5 out of 5

Description:  The life of a spinster in Victorian London isn’t an easy one on the best of days, but such a life becomes infinitely more complicated when said spinster is “soulless” – a preternatural bridging the gap between the natural and supernatural worlds. Miss Alexia Tarabotti has this unique distinction, and when she is assailed at a formal gathering by a rove vampire, an encounter that results in the death of the half-starved creature, her circumstances become exponentially more complicated indeed! Now caught up in an intrigue with life or death stakes, Alexia must rely on all her talents to outmatch the forces conspiring against her, but it may be the man who has caught her eye – Lord Conall Maccon – and their budding flirtation that truly drives her to her wit’s end!

Review:  Let me begin by admitting that I am not quite sure that I fully understand what distinguishes something as manga or not. Therefore, I cannot speak to how mangarific this graphic novel may or may not be. What I can offer is this reader’s testimony of sincere pleasure in the manga version Soulless.

I am a huge fan of the Parasol Protectorate series from Gail Carriger. This adaption of the first book, Soulless did not disappoint. It is a great light version of the original story, yet REM did a great job of capturing the adventure and sentiment of the book. The manga-style artwork even further captured the whimsical tone that permeates the Parasol Protectorate series. Facial expressions were really well-done, capturing the essence of the characters in each scene. I particularly enjoyed the frames that depicted both Alexia and Conall when they were especially aggravated. The cover art was visually striking, though not quite as appealing as the novel’s cover.

Obviously, this manga series will appeal to Parasol Protectorate fans. However, I do think that story is solid enough to stand on its own merit. Perhaps some manga fans will discover the PP series because of the graphic novels?

My favorite thing about this adaptation is that it provides a quick way for me to revisit some of my favorite characters without having to invest the time in re-reading the entire book. I am eagerly awaiting the manga adaptations of the rest of the series.

Blameless ~ Gail Carriger

  • Title: Blameless
  • Author: Gail Carriger
  • Series: Parasol Protectorate #3
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Library
  • Reviewed by: Olga
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  Quitting her husband’s house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London’s vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires — and they’re armed with pesto.

Review:  An enjoyable romp, although logic is lame at times. Alexia, estranged from her husband and under a death sentence from the vampires, leaves England for Italy.  But the vampires’ minions find her everywhere. How? The author doesn’t specify.

On the other hand Alexia, resourceful as always, comes out of those encounters invariably the winner – with the help of her friends and her stuffed with armaments parasol. Some of her escapades are so absurd that you can’t help laughing, even though the heroine is in mortal danger. She even has time to fall in love with pesto. Delicious.

I agree with some reviewers that in the end, she lets her husband Conall off the hook too easily, forgives him too willingly, but that is a comparatively small fault for the otherwise delightful book.

Besides Conall, although responsible for the before-mentioned estrangement, suffers from it terribly, possibly even more than his wife because, of his guilty conscience. His drunken monologue is piercing, evocative, and hilarious simultaneously:

“She is wedged”—he pointed two thick fingers at his head as though they formed a pistol—“here.” Then rammed them at his chest. “And here. Canna shake her. Stickier than”—his power of metaphor failed him—“stickier than … cold porridge getting all gloopy on the side of a bowl,” he finally came up with triumphantly.

What an eloquent description of love.
Unlike her hero, the author’s power of metaphor never fails. When Conall is drowning his sorrow in formaldehyde and his second is trying to reason with him:

It was like trying to have a conversation with a distracted and very soggy scone. Every time he pushed in one direction, the earl either oozed or crumbled.

Or this one, probably my favorite:

The house stood as a solo bastion of cheer, battling valiantly against the London sky, which had undertaken its customary stance halfway between an indifferent gray and a malnourished drizzle.

I wish I had written that!

Soulless ~ Gail Carriger

  • Title: Soulless
  • Author: Gail Carriger
  • Series: Parasol Protectorate #1
  • Genre: Paranormal, Steampunk
  • Format: Kindle
  • Source: Library
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire – and then 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? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?


Review:  Take one part paranormal fantasy and mix it with equal parts historical mystery, add a bit of streampunk and large dollop of comedy, then top off with a dash of romance and you get the novel Soulless. The recipe may be unconventional, but the result is quite delicious.

Alexia Tarabotti is a strong and independent woman who has no problem voicing her opinions. This is precisely why, Victorian England, she and everyone she knows accepts her fate as a spinster. If they all knew that she was truly a preternatural being without a soul, somewhat the antidote to supernatural beings, it would be quite the scandal.

Being so strong willed, and well, nosy, Alexia can’t help find herself stumbling into trouble and into the way of alpha Werewolf, Lord Maccon (think handsome Scottish bull in a china shop), who is head of the agency that monitors supernaturals. They both find themselves caught up in a comical tale of danger and mystery.

I really enjoyed the unique combination of styles woven together by Carringer. For some reason, my internal reading voice adopted a prim, yet forceful, tone to narrate the story in my head. I love that Alexia is so concerned with propriety, but then again, not really.

Oh, and kudos to Carringer for giving us a complete book, even though it will be a series. I am so tired of ending a book, only to discover that it is not really an end.

This was a fun read and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Cover note: I simply love this cover. The depicted posture captures Alexia’s prim, but forceful personality. It is well balanced and has great use of color, contrasting the burgundy and pink tones with the blacks and greys.

Soulless ~ Gail Carriger

  • Title: Soulless
  • Author: Gail Carriger
  • Series: Parasol Protectorate #1
  • Genre: PNR, Steampunk
  • Format: eBook & Audio
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewer: Soo
  • Rating: 3 out of 5

Description:  First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire – and then 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? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

*Potential Spoiler*

Review:  Alexia is different from other people. Not counting her independent spirit, forthright curiosity, steadfast adherence to spinsterhood, and gleeful indulgence in unladylike topics like science, anatomy & murder, Alexia lacks a soul and her touch temporarily turns supernaturals back to their human state. That makes her a bit of a threat. Just a little.

Written vs Audio:

I began the story by reading a handful of chapters and the quirky narrative made me smile. Due to changes in my schedule, I got the audio version of story in order to finish the story on a long drive. Listening to a story is very different from reading one. If I had just read Soulless, I probably would have liked it more than listening to it. The vocal narrator managed to make the Alpha Wolf sound constipated, Lord Alkeldama sounded like gay vampire that was constantly high, and made it glaringly apparent when Alexia went out of character & made several dumb decisions or illogical leaps that caused more confusion.

The clever foundation for the story becomes tarnished as the tale comes to an awkward climax and conclusion. Badly timed sexual tension between Alexia & Lord Maccon made for eye rolling rather than amused grins about the two of them getting together. The mystery started out very promising but it became a lumpy blot of prejudiced bigots who wanted to “clean up” England. I had a hard time imagining the hired thugs taking down vampires and werewolves. All the bad guys and their hired help sounded like contemptuous, life stupid individuals who should have been caught red handed much sooner than they did. Lord Maccon sounded like a sinus infected Britain trying to talk without a noticeable accent… it started out funny and ended as an annoyance.

To be fair, at some point, I want to come back to this story and read the written format. The story would be more enjoyable if I can picture it without external influence. Sadly, the reader for the audio book made this story go from something funny & interesting to slap-dash entertainment and silly trivialities.

The story is amusing. My advice is to avoid the audio version and go straight to the written book.