Iron-Willed & Tea-Powered
Pride & Prejudice with vampires, werewolves, and steam-powered airships.
If your immediate reaction was one of giddy glee or burning curiosity, then Soulless by author Gail Carriger may very well be just the book for you.
Soulless by Gail Carriger (Parasol Protectorate series)
The story centers around Alexia Tarabotti a head-strong, out-spoken, 26-year-old spinster—a winning combination in Victorian London's high society if your idea of winning is social pariah-dom. Also as a soulless "preternatural" who has the ability to remove a supernatural's powers as long as she is in physical contact them, she is a rarity treated with further wary disdain by the majority of London's supernatural set—the proverbial pop stars of high society.
Resigned to her fate as an overlooked spinster and quite enjoying the freedoms afforded by social obscurity, Alexia plans to live out her days indulging her bluestocking tendencies over tea. However, after a run-in with an extremely impolite vampire results in accidental death—of the aforementioned vampire and a by-standing plate of treacle tarts—Alexia's life suddenly becomes equal parts thrilling and complicated—beginning with Lord Maccon, the infuriating and gorgeous werewolf sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
What follows is a mystery of appearances and disappearances, a budding steamy romance, and witty, banter-filled prose sure to induce several giggle fits. And the icing on this scrumptious cupcake? Soulless is #1 in the Parasol Protectorate series, which gets even better with each book as you become irrevocably attached to the wonderfully diverse and quirky cast of characters.
But what's a cupcake without sprinkles?
Here's your sprinkles: There's also a graphic novel version of the entire series—a great alternative for the reluctant reader and graphic novel gormandizer alike.
Not sold yet?
Ahem. Back on topic.
In addition to Soulless and the Parasol Protectorate series, the wondrous Ms. Carriger has two other related series: Finishing School and The Custard Protocol.
Same world, different players.
Finishing School takes place before the events of the Parasol Protectorate series, and revolves around the misadventures of a group of misfit girls at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. Sounds kind of dull right? Wrong. This is no stuffy ol' finishing school.
First of all, the academy is located on-board a dirigible (steam-powered airship). Secondly, this finishing school not only teaches its students the fine arts of etiquette, dance, and dress—but the deadly arts of espionage and assassination as well. Think Harry Potter-esque. (If Harry was a girl named Sophronia and instead an owl named Hedwig he/she had a mechanical wiener dog named Bumbersnoot.)
Finishing School is also Carriger's only YA (Young Adult) series. So if you prefer your steamy scenes limited to travels via airship, you'll probably prefer Finishing School over the Parasol Protectorate and The Custard Protocol series. (If you are looking for full-steam ahead, definitely check out the author's ongoing San Andreas Shifters series. It's a contemporary M/M romance series—filled with humor, heat, and werewolves.)
In turn, The Custard Protocol takes place after the events of Parasol Protectorate and stars the various offspring of the characters there in. Without giving too much away, the general gist is that said offspring team up and take off in a top-of-the-line dirigible dubbed, "The Spotted Custard," and travel around the world resolving various crises of the British Empire.
All in all, these series by Gail Carriger feature indomitable female protagonists who lead lives rife with adventure whilst surrounded by scrumptious supporting casts of supernatural beings, pausing in their endeavors only to recharge vis-à-vis the invigorating power of a good bout of banter and copious amounts of tea.
Iron-Willed & Tea-Powered—Carriger’s heroines are some of my absolute favorites.