Author: Gail Carriger
Having read quite a serious, time consuming novel prior to ‘Heartless’, I approached reading this book as one approaches taking a break. For I always know when commencing a Gail Carriger novel, that I am about to peruse through a light hearted, rib-achingly hilarious story full of the author’s wonderfully creative and colourful imagination. I literally read this book in a day, for the novels in this series are much shorter (around 370 pages to be exact) in comparison to other books and the mirth and tongue-in-cheek goings-on in the story, keeps the reader quite glued to one’s seat.
I do realise not many would appreciate this series, as not many readers allow themselves to indulge in the Supernatural/Paranormal/Steampunk genre, which is a shame as this series has kept me completely entertained this past year. I think one of the important things to consider when approaching any book series, is to keep an open mind. Too many times I have passed over novels and book series, presuming they weren’t my ‘kind of thing’ only to return to them many years later and kick myself for not reading them sooner! It simply does not matter to me any more if people presume what I’m reading is silly or unrealistic. For what is a book, only a medium through which we can indulge in our fantasy worlds and live fantastical lives through magical characters. If it is a sin to read such a series, then by all means call me a sinner, for I am hooked line and sinker to this wonderful book series.
Gail Carriger must be a hilarious woman, for her humour is the backbone of this series. In ‘Heartless’ we continue to follow the story of Lady Alexia Maccon, wife to the local Lord Maccon (who is the alpha of the local werewolf pack, Mujah to Queen Victoria, oh and of course preternatural (meaning she can turn all immortals to mortals by just a touch). Alexia in this instalment is eight months pregnant, and feeling it. However determined not to let the ‘infant inconvenience’ ruin all her fun, she embarks on yet another mystery surrounded by the usual, much loved colourful characters of this series. Life has retuned to somewhat normal for the Maccons. Having finally realised that the baby, Alexia is carrying is his own, Lord Conall Maccon seems to have made a choice to allow his wife to do whatever she wants, within reason of course. However there is one slight problem, the vampires are determined to destroy Alexia and the child they consider an ‘abomination’ to nature. Lord Akeldama sweeps in, in his usual splendour, and saves the day by offering to become the child’s adoptive father. Alexia and Conall move in next door to Lord Akeldama and his colourful array of drones as a result, and of course drama follows. A mystery appears in the form of a half crazed ghost, who informs Alexia that the Queen is in danger. In her search to solve the mystery, Alexia uncovers gasp worthy secrets that threaten to destroy her pack. Madame LeFoux, Alexia’s scientist friend, also returns with secrets of her own which lead to an explosion of drama and a major cliffhanger for the next book in the series. The reader also finally gets a momentary reveal into who Alexia’s preternatural father was, which gave the finishing touch to a brilliant read, in my opinion, and I will go as far as to say that this novel was my favourite, after the second instalment of the series. Compared to its predecessor, it was streets ahead plot-wise.
The characters in the instalment of the series were superb. By relocating next door to Lord Akeldama, the reader gets an in-depth look at what the lively and glamorous vampire is like when he is at home. His outrageousness as a character, is the heart of the story if you ask me. From his flamboyant outfits to his eccentric terms of endearment, Lord Akeldama had me regularly laughing out loud and provided so much light heartedness through the dramatic scenes in the novel. What was also wonderful to note about the flashy vampire, is that he is possibly one of the most intelligent characters in this story. One might notice in the series, that he often hides behind a façade of that of a gossip queen and uses his silly nature as a means of tricking those around him into thinking him altogether innocent and when in actuality, he is one of the major players in the political arena of London in the Victorian era.
I loved the bigger storyline Biffy, the ex drone of Lord Akeldama and now newly turned werewolf, has had in this novel. One’s heart would simply break for Biffy and his loss of Lord Akeldama. Often Alexia is characterised almost motherlike with Biffy as her and Conall try to remedy his situation. He is a charming individual who I know will have an even bigger role in the sequel to this novel and look forward to his next plot-line with the utmost relish. I also loved how Professor Lyall is not the innocent werewolf the reader has known from previous novels, but quite calculating and I do dislike the wool being pulled over Lord Maccon’s eyes and do hate Lyall for placing Alexia in such an awkward for position of not being able to confide the truth to Conall about his past. It does provide major suspense for what might occur in the next instalment however.
Felicity Loontwill, Alexia’s half sister has been getting rather a large starring role in the last few books in the series. Yet again, Felicity is thrust to centre stage in this novel through her devious ways. Her airy, blonde demeanour of the past has given way to a rather sinister, jealous, calculating and crafty character who will stop at nothing to ensure her own success in life, even if it means spying on her sister and endangering her and her unborn child. Oh the suspense! I still however am quite disappointed that Alexia has yet to put Felicity in her place, I really would like her to cause Felicity a rather unpleasant, mortifying moment in the books but alas this still has not occurred.
Alexia has really come full circle as a character. She is outrageously funny in this book, obviously being heavily pregnant, leads her into the most entertaining and comical moments. Her pregnancy is thoroughly enjoyable to read about, and adds such a comedic element to even the most serious of moments in the story. She has really come into her own as the female alpha to the werewolf pack, and takes no prisoners in her search for the truth. Her preternatural ability allows her to be the most practical of characters, even when she knows it might incriminate those she cares for. Conall isn’t quite as stubborn with Alexia as he used to be, but having committed such an atrocious act in the previous novel, it is no wonder he is now more docile. There were plenty heart warming moments between this two lovable but headstrong characters.
One of the things I was disappointed with however, is again the lack of Ivy Tunstell moments in this novel. Also an issue I had with the previous novel in the series. Apart from a chapter where Alexia inducts her into ‘The Parasol Protectorate’ (great addition of the series name to the books) and sends Ivy off to Scotland on a mission, there are very few more mentions of her. I am a fan of this odd friendship and I found it a shame that there was very little emphasis placed on this in the novel. I am aware that this maybe the case due to Madame LeFoux’s part to play in the story, and how her need for revenge against the vampire countess might take up the majority of the story with little room for Ivy. On that note, the climax of Madame LeFoux’s story line ending was quite brilliant and apt, although I am hoping this doesn’t mean the end of her character in the final book of the series.
Overall it is evident that I am an avid fan of Ms. Carriger. Her talent for humour really makes me look forward to reading her books, and her books are such easy reads, it makes for a truly enjoyable experience. In reading other reviews of this instalment it has bothered me to no end that people can complain that this book was unrealistic, it is a paranormal book! of course it is unrealistic. If realistic is what you want in a book series then I suggest the supernatural genre isn’t for you. Although I would like to point out how Gail Carriger has created a supernatural Victorian society, quite brilliantly and it is quite realistic and believable despite it being paranormal. Yes I do realise that the book cover does not portray a pregnant woman, but really is that what a reader is going to nit pick about? the story is still fantastically entertaining and that is what truly matters. I will admit, the adoption of Conall and Alexia’s unborn baby by Lord Akeldama, and the child supposedly being raised by vampires, did not sit well with me at all to begin with, but as you read deeper into the story and see just what this ‘adoption’ actually means, it is not a big deal at all and shouldn’t be worried about.
In conclusion if you are a fan of the paranoraml/supernatural genre, and in need of a good laugh, this book series is perfect for you. It supplies everything from girl power to mystery to plenty of drama to keep any reader occupied and entertained. I beseech you all to make it a new year’s resolution not to judge a book/book series by it’s cover, you may be missing out on an epic story.
As always I look forward to your comments/opinions.
The Avid Reader 🙂