Phil Parker (tigertoy) wrote,
Phil Parker

Book review: Changeless

Today's book review (the book I finished earlier today; the last post was the one I'd blown off) is Changeless by Gail Carriger.

This is book 2 of the Alexia Tarabotti series which started with Soulless.  It relies on the characters established in the first book, tells a fairly neat and well contained story, and then, instead of ending, hits us with a huge plot bomb, producing a really horrible cliffhanger.  Seriously, the author's website says that book 3, Blameless, is scheduled for release Sept. 1, and you might want to wait.  (Of course, we're not guaranteed that that one will offer a less annoying place to stop reading, but it can't be more annoying.)

The first few chapters of this one didn't have quite as much zing as the first book, but it was entertaining.  We start to dig into the world building a little bit more, with some half-interesting, half-amusing explanations of just how different the book world is from the one we live in.  It makes it clear that it's farther from reality as we know it, but it's actually a little more believable for it; it seems to be consistent and we can clearly stop worrying about some of the science issues because we've clearly explained that this world has some very different rules.

A fun book, not quite as wonderful as the first, but still solid.  The rude ending definitely lops a full point off the rating.

7 out of 10.


Something weird happens.  All supernatural effects in central London are suppressed; for several hours, the vampires have no fangs, the werewolves can't turn into wolves, and the ghosts are exorcised.  Alexia gets a new parasol, with lots of secret agent gadgets, from Madame Lefoux, an inventor who dresses as a man.  Miss Ivy gets engaged to a gentleman she doesn't know and then discovers she's in love with Lord Maccon's valet Tunstell.  Lord Maccon learns that his old pack, up in Scotland, lost their Alpha, and he runs off to deal with it.  He's never explained the situation to Alexia.  Then Alexia gets evidence that the supernatural-suppressing effect seems to be traveling with the Kingair pack.  Worried that her husband is running into unexpected danger, she decides to meet him there.  The trains aren't running due to a strike, so she decides to take a dirigible.  Ivy, her sister Felicity, her maid Angelique, and Tunstell end up attached to this party.  And Madame Lefoux appears on the airship.  Alexia isn't feeling well and finds the food very disagreeable, so she passes off her dish to Tunstell.  It turns out that the dish was poisoned, and Tunstell gets rather ill.  (And I just realized that if we actually explain who did the poisoning, I missed it.)  Then there's a fight aboard the airship.  Alexia falls off, but catches herself on a spar.  Madame Lefoux and the unknown assailant fight and the assailant escapes.  They arrive in Glasgow and meet Lord Maccon, so they're all together when they go to Castle Kingair, where they find themselves very unwelcome.  Some intrigues happen, through which we learn that Lord Maccon left his pack some 20 years ago because they'd all been involved in a plot to assassinate the Queen, which he found unforgivable; since he didn't want to kill them all, he left.  His great great granddaughter ended up Alpha, but her mate wasn't a full Alpha; he couldn't take the Anubis form and make new werewolves.  And she's still human.  Lord Maccon doesn't want to try to turn her because females so rarely survive, and he's her last living descendant.  Then we learn that the thing that suppresses the supernatural at a distance is a Soulless mummy.  Lord Maccon gets poisoned, and Alexia destroys the mummy so that he'll get his powers back so the poison will stop affecting him.  Angelique, who turns out to be spying for the vampires in the hopes that they'll make her a vampire, tries to transmit the secret over the aetherograph, but luckily Professor Lyall back in London had sabotaged the Westminster Hives' machine, so probably they don't know it.  Angelique gets tossed out a window and becomes a ghost.  She reveals some things to Alexia -- most significantly, that Madame Lefoux' son isn't really Madame Lefoux', it's Angelique's, and Lord Maccon may be the father.  Then, at her request, Alexia exorcises her.  Lord Maccon bites Lady Kingair, and she survives.  Miss Ivy and Tunstell elope.  Everything seems to be just fine.

And then we learn that the reason Alexia has been feeling poorly is that she's pregnant.  And Lord Maccon refuses to believe that the child is his, because everyone knows that the supernatural are infertile.  Even though we, the reader, know Alexia is faithful, and we know that Lord Maccon was able to make her pregnant because he is mortal while he's touching her, but somehow what is obvious to us is not clear to the characters in the story.  Maccon sends Alexia away in disgrace, and that's where we end the book.
Tags: book review, fantasy, gail carriger
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