Soulless, by Gail Carriger and this version illustrated by Jensine Eckwall, is titled after the preternatural Miss Alexia Tarabotti, whose touch renders supernatural vampires and werewolves mortal. The book, told in omniscient point of view, mainly follows Alexia as she flirts with an alpha werewolf, visits with a rove vampire, and gets kidnapped by mad scientists.
I know I’ve talked about the Parasol Protectorate series before, but not this individual book, and the issue of the illustrated hardback seemed the perfect time for a reread and a review.
The illustrations in Soulless were charming. Done in a pen-and-ink style, they are intricately detailed. Scattered throughout the book, there are ten full-page illustrations that include a werewolf in wolf form carrying a coat, a walk through the park with dirigible floating overhead, Lord Akeldama holding his tuning fork-anti-eavesdropping device, and of course the first scene in the book with Alexia hitting a vampire with her parasol. There are other key moments illustrated, but I won’t tell about them since that would give some important plot points away.
Soulless contains many genres in its pages—steampunk, romance, comedy of manners, adventure, mystery—and they all blend together splendidly, none overshadowing the others. The plotting and pacing are tight, every scene contributing to the greater whole, wether silly or serious—or, more likely, both.
Soulless contains some of my favorite characters. There is, of course, the ever-practical Alexia, her best friend Ivy Hisselpenny of the horrible bonnets, and the foppish yet deadly rove Lord Akeldama. Lord Connal Maccon, Alexia’s love interest and the alpha of the London werewolf pack and head of the governmental BUR—Bureau of Unnatural Registry—and his beta, the neat and cunning Professor Lyall. And so many other characters, all well-drawn and alive.
Soulless is one of my favorite books. It wraps everything up well, while still leaving seeds planted for further stories. I hope this illustrated hardback edition does well enough that the rest of the series gets the same treatment.