Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. 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?



Soulless is one of those titles I would often come across, be curious and contemplate reading it, but then I’d pass on. I am drawn to Steampunk, but I’m fussy when it comes to Steampunk fiction (so far I’ve loved every other aspect of Steampunk culture without any hesitation). I enjoy stories set in and from Victorian times, I enjoy historical fiction, I love Victorian dress, and I even have my own parasol. I love dark elements to stories and enjoy supernatural myths. It sounds like I would be attracted to Soulless, doesn’t it?

There are a few things that make me wary of books like Soulless though. If you take away the Steampunk and replace the setting with something more modern, I’m reminded of urban fantasy. There is not a title I’ve enjoyed that comes to mind when thinking of adult urban fantasy, at least not adult urban fantasy infused with romance. This is why I would pass Soulless each time I came across it, but then I won a copy and I gave into my curiosity.

I really do not understand the trend of female characters that put themselves down and think less of themselves, then meet a man and start to develop a higher personal opinion. What is so attractive about it? No, really? What? It floors me because stories can be a form of fantastical escape and it’s also not realistic in the slightest. I may be in a same sex relationship, but I’ve dated enough men to know meeting someone doesn’t change your opinion of yourself in the long run. I’m not just going by my accounts of self-esteem changes either, but I’ve known plenty of women who have not felt better about themselves after meeting a man. Feeling wanted and feeling better about yourself are two different things. I believe that if you’re getting into a relationship to feel better about yourself, than you have some personal shit to deal with and it won’t be resolved by being with someone.

Anyway, enough of my rant… My point I was hopefully aiming to make was, while Soulless has quite a few attractive qualities and held promise in the beginning, once the whole ‘meet-man-self-esteem-rises’ cliché presented itself (as well as gay stereotypes rearing its ugly head) I became frustrated with the story. Especially when the clumsy romance between Alexia and her Lord became the focus and was fairly predictable.

Once the mystery, which came across as less than second importance, reached its conclusion, I ended up finishing Soulless by sheer determination rather than wanting to. The story does have some interesting tidbits to a degree. The problem is some of it doesn’t seem to matter as much even though it could be what drives the concept. The main character’s lack of soul is what I’m referring to and how it doesn’t entail any real description or how Alexia doesn’t seem to care. She read a few Greek philosophers so she’s peachy now.

Alexia does have several quirky traits that can be enjoyable and the writing itself is infused with humour. I don’t particularly care for descriptions of meals either, but can appreciate how much Soulless would appeal to those who like to create meals based on what characters eat. All in all though, I have decided Soulless and the rest of the series is not for me, but I am glad I gave it a go.

Word on the street is I love guest posters. It’s true! If you’re interested in guest posting on BA, whether it’s book reviews or something else book related, drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.

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