Steampunk Book Review: Soulless (2009)

PrintGail Carriger asks and answers an interesting question in her Parasol Protectorate series: “What if the supernatural was integrated into every day life?” Against the backdrop of Victorian London, the acerbic “spinster”, Alexia Tarrabotti, finds herself in a world that has done just that. Vampires and werewolves have been accepted into society, with some even acting as agents and advisers to the crown.

The supernatural set all have an overabundance of “soul” which allows them to survive the transition to immortal. Alexia, on the other hand, was born without any “soul” at all, which means her touch mitigates the abilities of others. When science meets the supernatural, Alexia finds herself in the middle of scheme to understand the inner workings of the soul, and how to use this knowledge to wipe out the immortals, including her werewolf paramour, forever.

This was a very fun book and I would definitely recommend it. Alexia’s inner monologue made me giggle, especially as she tries to navigate her relationship with the werewolf Alpha. To borrow a phrase from The Princess Bride, this is definitely “a kissing book,” so if you aren’t looking for romance in your Steampunk you might want to steer clear. That being said, I thought the dialog was intelligent and witty, and the world that Carriger creates is extremely entertaining. Starting in 2012, Soulless was also adapted as a graphic novel with artwork by Rem.

I will definitely be picking up Book 2, Changeless.

Have you read any of the Parasol Protectorate books? What did you think?


  1. I really like the sound of the premise for this book. Drat it though, now I’d rather be reading this than working on my dissertation. Then again I’m already procrastinating on WordPress so perhaps procrastinating with a book isn’t any worse.


    1. Aren’t dissertations the worst? I only have an MA so I didn’t have the whole shebang, but The Mister is writing his history dissertation right now. You should get Soulless and then reward yourself with a chapter at regular word count intervals 🙂


      1. Haha, perhaps I should, but I’ve already got a currently-reading stack taller than me. I turned away from uni to finish The Madness Underneath last night just so it would look one book less inviting.


  2. I just finished Soulless and Changeless. I found them both fun and generally entertaining. These were the second and third books I have read by Gail Carriger. I found the characters compelling and the language very fun. She has defined a very interesting world and culture with lots of complex rules that are being revealed over time. My only criticism (having read a third book) was that her stories seem a bit “Steampunk formululaic” – Set story in Victorian times, simmer language, throw in a cup of magical beasts and a dash of mechanical strangeness – stir thoroughly. Stated more clearly – it feels as if she started with Steampunk and wrote a story instead of starting with a story and made it Steampunk. It is a minor criticism that took three books to get to.


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