Vampires! Werewolves! Steampunk! Regency! Gail Carriger's first of a trilogy, Soulless, is a mishmash of genres--and mighty proud of it.
While this book may not make it into my Top Ten list any time soon, it was still a fun read. Definitely a welcome change from: a) the bodice-rippers I usually immerse myself in (because of the added element of the fantastic); and b) the supernatural novels filled with angsty vampires and werewolves (because of its tongue-in-cheek Victorian setting). What I enjoyed most about it is that it doesn't take itself seriously. In the story, Alexia Tarabotti is not only half-Italian and old for the marriage market, she is also soulless. Not exactly what every Victorian woman aspires to be, not even in a world where werewolves and vampires are accepted into the ton. At her touch, supernatural creatures are reduced to their mortal states. What's more, Alexia has a sassy tongue and a fiery temper that often pits her against Lord Maccon, the Alpha of London's werewolf pack (and yes, one of the most eligible men of their time as well--but you didn't need me to tell you that, right?). When a renegade vampire tries to feed off her, Alexia and Lord Maccon join forces to get to the bottom of this new threat. Oh, and they fall in love, too.
Because it's such a melding of different genres, it becomes difficult to rate Soulless. I've enjoyed more exciting urban fantasies. I've fallen in love with more dashing heroes. I've been frightened by more menacing supernatural threats. But in its own campy way, Soulless is exciting -- a breathless, effortless read that tries to carve a niche among dozens of genres. The best way to enjoy it is to leave the Reviewer Mode at the door one rainy afternoon, and to make sure that you have a lot of tea within reach.