Author: Gail Carriger
Oh I do love a good paranormal romance and Gail Carriger has provided me with such a wonderful medium through which I can avidly partake in my new found admiration of the supernatural, steampunk genre. I am of course speaking about Ms. Carriger’s fantastic book series ‘The Parasol Protectorate’ which follows the adventures of Alexia Maccon, Lady Woolsey, Muhjah to Queen Victoria’s shadow council, oh and of course a preternatural. For those of you who have yet to read the series, I suggest you begin reading it straight away, and also do not go any further in reading of this review as it will contain spoilers.
To begin my review on ‘Blameless’ I must be honest and admit that it was not the best in the series to date, but this is only due to the fact that I found the last instalment in the series, ‘Changeless’, so bloody brilliant, and the fact that it ended on such a cliffhanger moment, meant that I was so excited to get my hands on the next book. ‘Blameless’ is also a great read, but It is hard not to compare this book to its predecessor. Also the main issue in this book, which I will go into detail about in my next paragraph, is so very frustrating and as it is a prevalent issue throughout the novel. That feeling of annoyance lingered from the beginning to nearly the end of the novel for me personally.
Alexia Maccon, has once again found herself in a major scandal. This is unsurprising, as a fiery and audacious preternatural (which is the ability to revert the supernatural set to their human forms with just a touch, also lacking in soul), trouble always follows Alexia wherever she may go. Following the major cliffhanger that occurred in the last book, Alexia now finds herself fired from the shadow council, shunned by London society, and cast out by her beloved werewolf husband, the dashing but complete and utter idiot, Lord Conall Maccon due to what Alexia herself calls an ‘inconvenience’ (trying not to ruin the plot here). Her so called family, the painfully annoying, Loontwills will not even believe Alexia. With no one else to turn to, Alexia at first flees to her dearest friend, Lord Akeldama, her flamboyant vampire friend, who has always provided her with words of wisdom and support. However on arriving at his residence, Alexia soon realises all is not what it seems, for Lord Akeldama has vanished with his drones. Following this, attempts begin to be made on Alexia’s life by vampires, Alexia soon has had enough. Why has this happened to her? Why are the vampires trying to kill her? and why does her fool of a husband not realise the truth of the situation, and instead of protecting her, as any respectable husband would, Alexia has to turn to others for help.
Alexia is left with no other solution, but to flee. With the companionship of her friend, hat maker, suit wearer and inventor, Madame Genevieve Lefoux and her mysterious and secretive butler, Floote, Alexia travels to Italy, her father’s homeland in search of information regarding her inconvenience, what it means to be a preternatural and also information regarding her father. In this epic adventure, Alexia crosses paths with mechanical lady bugs, anti-social Templar knights, delicious pesto and terribly orange landscapes, all in search for answers to her questions. Meanwhile back in London, Professor Lyall, has been left in somewhat of a tizzy. Lord Maccon has decided that alcohol is the only way to fix his heartbreak and so it left to Professor Lyall to try to solve the mystery of what exactly is going on with the vampires, who have all gone into hiding since Alexia’s departure, while also trying to run the pack.
Needless to say, this novel provides numerous moments of dramatic flair that Ms Carriger is so talented in creating. Her humour and wit as an author, also provide for great laugh out loud moments. The reader however, also witnesses a new side of emotions, Alexia, who usually is always upbeat and witty, is now in this novel, quite devastated and depressed with her situation. This has allowed the reader to see Alexia’s vulnerability for what I believe is the first time. She never realised how much she relied on Conall and how much she allowed him to get under her skin, and now to be abandoned by him so suddenly, without even giving her a chance to explain, has altogether left her quite broken hearted. In relation to the character of Conall, who I loved in the previous two novels, and whose hot headedness and rowdy nature was always compelling to me, has now become a complete and utter ninny in my eyes. I understand that Alexia’s issue is quite difficult to understand, I understand one might feel overwhelmed by such events, but really, to literally accuse your wife of doing such ill deeds without even trying to see things from her point of view is completely inexcusable to me. They are both paranormal creatures after all, and I find it difficult to believe that he, as a werewolf alpha and leader of the BUR, wouldn’t ever think to believe that such events could happen, is beyond me. This is a major issue for me throughout the novel, and one that does not get solved until the very end. Conall’s way of dealing with the issue is to get rip roaring drunk on any occasion possible, instead of doing the extremely obvious solution, which is going to Italy and finding Alexia and protecting her from danger. My frustration with his behaviour slightly took away from the whole reading experience as a result.
However I really did love how past characters played a more pivotal role in this novel. Madame Lefoux, having now eased up a bit on her insistent flirting with Alexia, is so much more charming in this novel. In fact her stubborn support of Alexia regardless of what society is saying about her, is so admirable and one almost wishes one had her as a dear friend. Floote, who always was in the background in the previous novels, is now not only more interesting in this novel, but he is a gun-slinging hero. Whoever would have thought! However his mysteriousness continues, whatever role he played in Alexia’s father’s life, he will still not confess. I also have taken an interest in the character of Major Channing, Conall’s pack gamma, who turns up in the most unlikely places and becomes altogether more attractive in my eyes, rescuing Alexia at numerous occasions. The overall best character has to be that of Professor Lyall however. For the first time we are given an in depth look into events from his perspective, and for me he is the true hero of the story, working behind the scenes to help Conall and Alexia. His protective nature is so admirable and his unending compassion for others, for me personally makes this novel such a success.
However I did miss the outrageousness of Lord Akeldama, who was missing from the novel until near the end. However I understand this might have been done by the author to allow for a more in depth look at other characters for a change. His humour and fashion was missed most terribly nonetheless. Speaking of humour, the character of Ivy, now Ivy Tunstall, was quite timid in this novel compared to the last. I missed her regular bizarre moments and silliness that she used to have with Alexia and genuinely felt her lack of presence and ditzyness throughout the novel. Also, I must say I was disappointed with how quickly the book ends and feel that another chapter of two would have sufficed to sum things up most effectively, whilst allowing Alexia to really make Conall pay for his stupidity.
Overall I did love this book, I love the world Gail Carriger creates. I adore her wit and have regularly been left guffawing and chortling on certain outrageously funny moments in the novel. She is certainly an author to be reckoned with and I love how easy it is to immerse yourself into her world of books. These novels are so cleverly written and one is regularly comparing her to the likes of Jane Austen. Although this is not my favourite book in the series, it is still indeed a great read and one I would recommend. I again congratulate Ms Carriger on such a clever take of the paranormal world.
As always I look forward to your comments and opinions,
The Avid Reader 🙂