Ch-ch-ch-changes (or, time may change my poor reading taste, but I can’t trace time)
Changeless, by Gail Carriger
This is the second book in the Parasol Protectorate series, following Soulless, which Jayne has praised. I’m one of those people who took her recommendation, and I’m so glad I did. It has a kickass female protagonist, sexy werewolves, fey vampires, and absurd steampunk contraptions, all within a fantastic and immersive alternate historical universe with supernatural beings as part of Victorian London society fabric. The dialog is witty and incisive, and overall it’s a wonderful combination of romance, mystery, and adventure. So with that said:
Have you read Soulless? You haven’t? GO AND READ. SERIOUSLY. DON’T READ THIS REVIEW UNLESS YOU HAVE READ SOULLESS OR NEVER INTEND TO because in talking about Changeless, I will spoil the shit out of Soulless. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Don’t blame your disappointment tears on me.
Changeless picks up where Soulless left off, which is with the newly minted Lady Maccon and Lord Maccon getting weresexy (I’m making that a thing, and if Stephanie Meyer tries to rob me of it, I will cut a bitch). But with Alexia’s role as muhjah, a preternatural advisor to the Queen on the Shadow Council, which oversees supernatural affairs, and Lord Maccon being somewhat occupied with his pack deciding to camp out on their estate, they don’t get a lot of time to settle in as newlyweds. And you barely get time to settle into the story – one thing I love about these books is that they’re fast paced, and don’t dwell on things like the chiseledness of Lord Maccon’s jaw [rest assured, it is very chiseled] or have overly flowery prose about how much Alexia’s bosom heaves. Though we do know she has a sizeable rack, which in those days was considered a liability. Why must fate be so cruel as to place me in these modern times that do not value those of us who are less bosomly gifted? I DIGRESS. TO THE STORY.
There’s a problem happening in London – ghosts are disappearing. Werewolves can’t change. Vampires are being made mortal. Something is causing the disturbance, and no one knows what or why. As head of BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry), Lord Maccon has to get to the root of it, but he’s suffering under the affliction as well. And as the head of the Woolsey pack, he has to take care of his men – and on a voyage back from Egypt, they were unable to change into werewolf form at all. But his old pack in Scotland is suffering as well – without an alpha to guide them, they’re lost. Plus, there’s indication they might have some of the answers to what’s plaguing London.
So one day, after some sexytimes, Alexia wakes up and finds her husband nowhere in sight. She’s a bit annoyed with having to deal with his whole pack on the lawn, a rakish third-in-command who intentionally provokes her, and his lack of communication regarding his departure. She does get a message to visit a hat shop where Madame LeFoux, the cross-dressing proprietor, turns out to have more…under her hat. Ha ha! (I pictured her as the Victorian-era version of Annie Lennox in the Sweet Dreams video. Or as SWINTON. Or David Bowie. But you can choose any androgynous celebrity.) Madame LeFoux is a genius inventor who gives Alexia her gift from her husband: a rather unsightly parasol with some hidden weaponry, kind of like a Steampunk artillery…parasol. She loves it, and will get plenty of use from it.
After a bit of debating with Professor Lyall, her husband’s beta wolf, and some consultation with her FABULOUS vampire friend, Lord Akeldama, she makes a choice. She’s off to Scotland, to find her husband, with her friend Ivy, her maid Angelique, Madame LeFoux, and some rather annoying family in tow as well. Of course, she flies dirigible (the Steampunk transport method of choice), feeling a little airsick and fending off a few murder attempts, but she takes it in stride. Why? She’s Alexia fucking Maccon nee Tarabotti and she takes no shit. She finds her husband, has a few choice words, and then…
AND THEN I CAN’T SAY ANY MORE, REALLY. Why? This is a review, not a recap, and I’m not going to ruin this book for you. Because I want you to read it. As you may have surmised, it’s a bit less romance, a bit more adventure (but don’t fret – there’s a fair amount of wolfsexing and some surprising sexy tension along the way) – and it fits how the story should go. There are fun inventions, there’s plenty of enjoyable repartee, lots of wolfly brooding, sexy men, a good amount of mystery, Egypt!!1 stuff (which I love) and
AN ENDING THAT WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO THROW YOUR E-READER
Orrrr maybe that was just me. BUT. Be warned. You’ll be reading along, happily heading toward a satisfying conclusion, and then be like “What the HELL, (character name withheld). Why would you (do thing that character did). I fucking hate you, (character name).” And you might be inclined to be like I HATE YOU FOR RECOMMENDING THIS. AND JAYNE FOR RECOMMENDING THAT YOU RECOMMEND THIS. Well, don’t hate us. Rather, have Blameless lined up so you don’t spend more than a week being mad at Gail Carriger. Like some of us may or may not have done. Because TRUST ME. Changeless is a great book but Blameless? Is even better. And it did not make me want to throw things. So do this, and consider yourself forever in my sexy debt for giving you this life tip.
No. That was not just you. The ending will make you want to hurl something, whether it be this book, any other books in the vicinity, your cat, or an antique Ming vase. Thanks again for another stellar review, Melinds. The rest of you: GAIL CARRIGER. GET ON IT.