Thursday, 26 September 2013

Timeless by Gail Carriger

Timeless (2012) (Orbit)
Gail Carriger
Grade: A+
Genre: steampunk / historical
Sex scenes: very mild
Source: own 
Parasol Protectorate: (1) Soulless, (2) Changeless, (3) Blameless, (4) Heartless, (5) Timeless

Alexia Tarrabotti Maccon and her husband, Conall Maccon, have gotten used to their new home in Lord Akeldama’s third closet. A household of vampires and werewolves living next door to each other might theoretically be a recipe for disaster, but Akeldama’s drones (wannabe vampires in waiting) have acclimated well and serve their resident pack without complaint.

When summons come for Alexia from Matakara, Vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive in Egypt, she couldn’t be off looking for adventure fast enough. This is the opportunity she craves to study the God-breaker curse, a plague of Egypt that has the blanket power of what she can achieve with a single touch. For Alexia Tarrabotti is a soulless: in scientific terms, a preternatural whose mere skin-to-skin touch with a supernatural creature renders them human for as long as her touch continues. Rumour has it that on entering the area afflicted by the God Breaker’s plague, all supernaturals lose their abilities and become human. In the name of scientific discovery, it is Alexia’s duty to visit.

However, a known soulless and the Muhjah (preternatural advisor) to Queen Victoria cannot simply visit Matakara in Egypt without a good cover. And so the Parasol Protectorate comes to the rescue! Under the guise of sponsorship to her best friend, Mrs Ivy Tunstell and her acting troop, the Maccons and their entourage head off to Egypt, having themselves the most astounding adventures along the way …

This was the perfect end to what has been quite the perfect series. Gail Carriger was my first introduction into steampunk and I have the feeling that I’m going to be forever spoilt for the rest of the genre. There’s no one quite like Ms Carriger and that thought makes me both ecstatic and sad; she was my favourite new author of 2011 and she still continues to deliver. Unlike other authors, she knows when to end a series that has reached its peak and the Parasol Protectorate have gone out with a bang.

Gail Carriger is exceptionally funny. Of my three latest favourite new authors (Carriger in 2011, Tiffany Reisz in 2012 and Ruthie Knox in 2013), Ms Carriger takes the prize for the funniest. Her books are funny to the point of ridiculousness, but it works because the characters, inventions, dialogue and circumstances are all so over the top. When I need a laugh by encountering characters called Mrs Colindrikal-Bumbcruncher, reading about a theatre show where an actor dressed as a bumblebee performs ballet to his vampire queen and seeing Lord Akeldama call Alexia monikers like ‘my darling toggle button,’ Gail Carriger is exactly where I turn.

Alexia is easily one of my favourite heroines ever. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty in the name of scientific discovery – so long as she has a cup of tea and a slice of cake at hand when the day is over. She loves Conall to distraction and knows just how to work around his frequent moods and general werewolvish bad behaviour. She hasn’t a care in the world what people (especially her family) think of her eccentric friends, behaviour and lifestyle and if anything, she’s likely to flaunt it to get a rise from them. Reading the pure artwork that is Gail Carriger’s writing is really the best cure to a bad day.

Alexia and Conall’s romance and marriage is one of the more unorthodox relationships I’ve ever come across, but it works precisely because they’re so perfectly suited to one another, despite being natural enemies. Their unorthodoxy partly arises from their statuses as Alpha of the Woolsey Pack and Soulless and huge credit to Ms Carriger for creating such a wonderful fantasy world. Really, considering the changes and challenges that they’ve had to face since book one, Alexia and Conall really are the most remarkable pair.

I'm of course, devastated that such a brilliant series is over, but as I've said, this was the perfect way to end it. There's nothing worse than an author continuing a series when the end was long overdue, and I'm consoling myself with the knowledge that I can Finishing School. I started book one, Etiquette and Espionage at the start of the summer, but I'm only about a chapter in and have yet to become emotionally invested. That being said, I have every faith that it will be just as amazing as the Parasol Protectorate has been.

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