I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Changeless by Gail Carriger
Published by Orbit on April 1, 2010
Source: the library
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Also by this author: Curtsies & Conspiracies, Etiquette and Espionage, Waistcoats & Weaponry, Manners & Mutiny, Soulless, Blameless, Prudence, Imprudence, Competence, Reticence
Second in the Parasol Protectorate steampunk series and revolving around Alexia Tarabotti Maccon, a soulless preternatural. It’s been three months since Alexia married Conall.
In 2013, Changeless won the Prix Julia Verlanger; in 2010, it was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Paranormal Fantasy, Goodreads Author.
I absolutely adore Carriger’s series. She’s so very good at blending Victorian mores with her steampunk society and then having a go at them — the silly names she comes up with perfectly complement the satire. She does promote an interesting theory about why manners developed. The clothing she describes! It’s much too easy to imagine it. The way Carriger describes Lefoux’s moves on Alexia, *more laughter* and the “passionate” embrace shared by Ivy and Tunstell. He actually likes Ivy’s hats!
Some of my favorite bits include the ton having to eat their hats, so to speak, now that Alexia is seen on favorable terms with the queen. She’s also become quite the trendsetter who sets an incomparable table. That scene in which Alexia meets Channing Channing for the first time, ROLFL. A wee bit of mistaken identity and Channing is about to lose his head and hands. That’ll teach him to be so officious and assuming. Felicity is such a pain, that she’s actually entertaining even if she is making Ivy miserable. I can’t decide if I should simply get up off the floor after laughing, smack her in the head, or both.
Oops, that loss of magic took Conall by surprise, and it was too funny when he encountered Biffy, who did have quick reactions. Luckily for Conall, lol. That tidbit from Lord Akeldama about Channing was quite revealing…I’m hoping to learn more *eyebrow waggle*
Alexia is such a practical girl, which makes it such fun when she acknowledges her “shortcomings” and takes people aback with her forthrightness:
“Oh, fiddlesticks, is everything in this meeting going to come back around to my being my father’s daughter? My hair is curly too — could that somehow be involved? I am the product of my birth, and there is nothing I can change about that, or believe you me, I might have opted for a smaller nose.”
Then there’s the relationship between Alexia and Conall. You can’t help but laugh as both of them alternate between confusion as to why s/he fell in love, and then…oh, yes…that’s why, lol.
Aha! Carriger is doing some foreshadowing in this. Long-term foreshadowing with this blip of a discussion about Egypt and the werewolves’ involvement with it.
Then there are the bits which have me panting for still more. That Madame Lafoux *laughing*… Alexia’s observations and regrets about her make me anxious to read Blameless, 3. Those constant, teasing hints about the kind of man Alessandro Tarabotti was that Carriger keeps dropping is driving me mad! I’m hoping that Carriger might do a short story that gives us a peek in at the man.
I’m still pissed at Sidheag for seeing the Kingair pack’s mess as his problem, and we FINALLY find out why Conall left his Kingair Pack back in Waistcoats & Weaponry, 3. I’d’a killed ‘em all off for that betrayal.
It’s exciting, adventurous, and a laugh a minute — mostly due to Alexia’s “lack of imagination”, ROFL.
That morning Alexia woke to find hundreds of soldiers camping on her front lawn, and it simply won’t do. It’s only the start of the startling dramas this day, as magic is gone in London, ghosts disappear, and Conall slips off to Scotland.
Worse, Mrs. Loontwill has foisted the “furious”, manipulating Felicity off on Alexia. It’s also why Alexia will simply have to take Felicity along with her, Ivy, and Tunstell when she flies off to Scotland in the dirigible. Of course, Angelique must come along, as one simply cannot travel without one’s maid.
And someone is stalking Alexia with assassination their intent.
Alexia Tarabotti Maccon, Lady Maccon, a preternatural, has been married to Conall for three months. Conall, the very large Lord Maccon, is the alpha for the Woolsey Pack and the Earl of Woolsey. As an alpha, Conall has an Anubis form, able to shift only his head into that of a wolf. Angelique is the French maid whom Alexia “inherited” in Soulless, 1. Floote has been valet to Alexia’s outrageous, opportunistic, and quite disreputable father, Alessandro Tarabotti, an Italian preternatural, and then butler to the Loontwills. Now he’s Alexia’s personal secretary. Tunstell is Lord Maccon’s rather clumsy valet, chief claviger, and an actor in love with Ivy.
The tasteless Miss Ivy Hisselpenny is Alexia’s best friend. Captain Featherstonehaugh has returned with the Northumberling Fusilli from India and has become engaged to the miserable Ivy. Mrs. Loontwill is Alexia’s flighty mother who doesn’t care for her daughter. She does, however, adore her incredibly dim daughters with Squire Loontwill: Felicity and Evylin who has become engaged. Which ticks Felicity off no end!
The Woolsey Pack is…
…based outside London in Woolsey Park. Rumpet is the butler. The three hundred-or-so years old Professor Randolph Lyall may be small of stature, but he more than holds his own as Conall’s Beta, his second-in-command. Half the pack is currently fighting in northern India. At least, that was what Alexia thought. Major Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings is Conall’s Gamma, third-in-command, and commander of the Coldsteam Guards when abroad. The resident pack members include Hemming.
Formerly Merriway is a polite young ghost who spies for Woolsey.
The Kingair Pack is…
…based in Scotland and being run by the extremely unwelcoming Lady Kingair who married Captain Niall (we knew her as Sidheag Maccon in the Finishing School series) and Conall’s great-great-great-granddaughter. Their wolves in the military are with the Black Watch regiment. The pack Beta, Dubh, is unhappy at seeing Conall; the Gamma, the singing Lachlan, is pleased, and the rest of the pack fall on different sides.
The Bureau of Unnatural Registry (BUR) handles…
…enforcement of supernaturals for the Crown with Lord Maccon in charge and its chief sundowner.
The Shadow Council is…
…composed of three beings who act as supernatural advisors to the queen. Keen on keeping up with the latest science news and technologies (and as a soulless) Alexia is perfect as muhjah, serving as a tiebreaker between the dewan, the Earl of Upper Slaughter who is a werewolf representing werewolf interests, and the potentate representing vampire ones. Lieutenant Funtington is one of the guards at the palace. The muhjah, as the only mobile member of the council, is also a mobile information gatherer. Ticked Conall off no end when he found out about that part.
“He’d even accused Alexia of being a kind of drone to Queen Victoria. Alexia had retaliated by wearing her most voluminous nightgown for a whole week.”
Lord Akeldama is…
…a rove, a vampire unattached to any hive. He’s quite the colorful fashion plate with a hive of beautifully dressed, very well-mannered, and good-humored drones who buzz throughout society gathering information for his lordship. Biffy is one of his favorites. Akeldama has recently acquired the very latest in aethographic transmitters. Seems telegraphs just weren’t good enough. Ooh, Conall implies that Alexia has a birthday coming up.
The Westminster Hive is…
…ruled by Countess Nadasdy. Lord Ambrose is one of her advisors. The vampires hold a controlling interest in the East India Company and its mercenary troops.
Chapeau de Poupe is…
…a newly opened hat shoppe — with octopus fittings! It is run by Madame Genevieve Lefoux who also invents. The precocious Quesnel is Madame’s son. Formerly Beatrice Lefoux is her paternal aunt. (We met both ladies, well, lady and girl, in the Finishing School series.) It seems that Geneviece’s father was once very close to Alexia’s father.
Giffard operates air-ships, dirigibles to you and me. Burt is a common soldier. Elsie Flinders-Pooke is a “friend” of Felicity’s.
The Templars are…
…a religious organization that despises all supernaturals, but will use them.
Clavigers serve werewolves as servants, hoping to be chosen for the change. The packs tend to favor the flamboyant artists and actors. I think Howlers are werewolf historians. The soulless are preternatural: beyond what is normal or natural. The vampires call her a soul-sucker while the wolves see her as a curse-breaker. A skin-stealer is mentioned. An Anubis form in the alpha is essential so the pack can procreate. The Hypocras Club was an evil offshoot and militant organization of the Order of the Brass Octopus in Soulless, 1.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a darkened cloudy sky with a golden dirigible floating above the city of London with Alexia clad in a fitted midnight blue flying costume with matching top hat banded with a pair of flying goggles. It’s such a perfect blend of proper Victoriana and the steampunk.
The title is both the overt conflict and Sidheag. An unknown weapon is causing the supernatural to be Changeless while Conall is insisting Lady Kingair remain as she is.