A review by gem9589
Heartless by Gail Carriger


Stop right there, potential reader of Heartless.

If you have been meandering the bookstore, milking the reviews of this 4th installment on Goodreads, trying to figure out if you want to read it or not, please, take this review to heart. You want to read it.

To be honest, I am writing this review because I know that I was almost discouraged to read this book at all because of several negative reviews floating around out here that I was reading. Now, I am a firm believer in everything that Gail Carriger will be putting out there in the future. EVERYTHING.

And here's why.

It seems to me that she's finally hit her stride as a writer in this fourth installment, because she ups the antics of everything she's put out there before. Ridiculous names, buoyant descriptions, awkward situations, mass detail on the latest fashions. She instills each of her characters in this volume with a depth that I didn't realize I was missing until now, even after reading the third installment of Blameless twice over before picking up this jewel from the bookstore. If you were a little put off by the lack of conflict and romance in the third book, missing not only Conall and Lady Maccon but also of the tensions between vampires and werewolves, then you will not be disappointed with this book at all. Throw in a little (heh, understatment) Alexia into the mix, and you've got yourself a hell of a ride.

The thing that upset me the most about the third installment was the aggravating way Floote would avoid talking about Mr. Tarabotti to his daughter in any circumstance. I mean, in ANY circumstance. Not even when they were in the same place that her father was occupying 25 years prior. Not even when any helpful information regarding his life would probably put her in more favorable circumstances more than once. Well, if that peeved you as much as it did me, then you are in for a delectable treat. You will finally understand not only WHAT Floote was hiding, but WHY, since the capable butler was probably not only protecting the interests of his late master's, but those of the people around him as well.

In any case, I get that, but I still would've like to hear more revelation on the details of Alessandro Tarabotti's life, you know, maybe a book or two back. But, like I said above, no complaints with this book thus far.

I say thus far because I am currently reading this book, haven't finished it yet.

Why I am I writing a review about it, then, when I haven't even completed it? Because it's simply THAT GOOD. This makes for impulsive reading, I've recommended it to several of my friends, sent them quotes while reading (that gave no spoilers away, calm down) to give them added reason to read this bloodydamn good series.

Prime, Gail Carriger. Prime.

To make up for the shortest installment of this series since the second book, Carriger sought to win back the hearts of her audiences with her continuing adventures of our favorite spunky heroine. In this 4th book, she is emotional yet still persistent, but NOT in the annoying way as you might think. Really, people are complaining about her being pregnant getting in the way through any logical plot coming through in the entire book, but really, when hasn't something ridiculous and cumbersome like that NOT happened in one of Carriger's books? In the second book, Ivy and Tunstell's and Felicity's love triangle; in the third book, Floote deftly maneuvering away from any mention about Alexia's father; in this one, Alexia's pregnancy. But you mustn't take this too seriously. This series IS built on mainly humor and levity in the mid-to-late 1800's.

But really, you must think it a feat in itself for Alexia to be such a headstrong character even growing up in the household that she did. Sure, she had the added pragmatism of being Soulless, but even then, she was a determined young cookie, not to be deterred in her expositions, whether it be in proving her and her child's innocence, or in getting to the bottom of the recent rumor of the assassination of Queen Victoria. Really, she is quite the inspiring heroine in general; stubborn, able to take control of her life (and the lives of others, may it be said), realistic (surprisingly so, I think, even with being Soulless), amazingly considerate of her friends and allies, and laudably self taught (especially for a woman of that time, for even though she had a tutor just like her sisters did, look at how educated they came out to be in the end. No, Alexia MUST have continued her education on her own, even mastering the French language and is in the process of learning a few more). And with a character such as Alexia in this, there is no WAY she's going to let some infant-inconvenience get in the way of getting done what needs to be done!

Going back to my point from before, I think that's WHY I enjoy Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series so much; the unadulterated fun of it. When reading, it becomes known to the reader that the plot or its structure isn't to be taken *too* seriously. But by adding wild descriptions about manners and fashions, and giving the reader reason enough to CARE about the fun, highly interesting characters she's drawn up, Carriger has made this as fun to read as it no doubt was as fun to write. And for that, I must say I am truly, truly grateful.

Some highlights for me: Conall's faithful and loving administrations to his wife; Lyall's Beta-ness; Biffy's considerate and fragile nature, who wins the hearts of all. THE HEARTS OF ALL (because if you are not completely taken in by his first months becoming a werewolf, his screaming in the transformation and his pain and awkwardness at losing--almost--everything that he had grown used to in his previous life, then you are cold, ice cold).

If anything, if the promise of backstory between characters that you didn't even realize had backstory won't draw you in, or the inclusion of a greater plot than has ever revealed itself in one of the Parasol Protectorate books so far, or the humor, or the little moments between Conall and Lady Maccon that give the book just a *little* more heart than was already to be expected, then let this be your reason for continuing on in reading this next book: the revelation of Biffy's real name. It's better than Lord Akeldama's Emmet Wilberforce Bootbottle-Fipps, if such a thing is possible. And it's so surprisingly and wonderfully fabulous. "Spectacularly Spanish, wouldn't you say?" as Lord Akeldama would put it. Yes, I would say exactly that.

Which reminds me, some fantastic quotes that won't give anything away and won't detract from the added luxury of buying/renting this book for yourself.

"She tried not to look, of course she did, but Biffy did have a rather nice physique. Not nearly so splendid as her husband's but not everyone could be built like a steam engine, and the young dandy had kept himself well in hand before metamorphosis, for all his frivolous pursuits.
'Biffy, were you secretly a Corinthian?' Alexia wondered out loud before she could stop herself.
Biffy blushed. 'No, my lady, although I did enjoy fencing rather more than some of my compatriots might consider healthy.'
Lady Maccon nodded sagely."

"'Well I say!' Lord Maccon stuffed another cutlet into his mouth. 'I can't imagine you actually defending the vampires. They've been trying to kill you for months.'
'Oh, Conall, do swallow first.Then speak. What kind of example is that for our child?'
The earl looked around as though trying to see if that little being had somehow been born with an eye toward modeling its behavior upon his."

"Alexia thought for the first time that Professor Lyall and Lord Akeldama shared some mannerisms. They were both good at hiding their emotions. To a certain extent, this was to be expected in vampires, but in werewolves . . . Lyall's reserve was practically flawless. Then she wondered if his very quiet stillness were not like that of a child climbing into hot water, afraid that every little movement would only make things hotter and more painful."

Quotes which highlight some of my favorite parts about Carriger's work; Alexia's practicality and bluntness, Professor Lyall's personality, and her overall deft hand at manipulating crafty yet humorous dialogue and prose.

In other words: very, very well done.