Published 2010 294 pages
Reviewed by Lotte
Summary (from the book jacket)
Not only does Queen Victoria dismiss her from the Shadow Council, but the only person who can explain anything. Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs – indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London’s vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.
While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together. Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires – and they’re armed with pesto.
‘Blameless’ continues the Victorian supernatural adventures of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate Series. The title refers to the status of our preternatural heroine Alexia, who ended book two outraged and outcast by her Alpha werewolf husband Lord Maccon. This third instalment picks up immediately with Alexia forced back to her family home. She soon decides that she’d be better off leaving the less than welcoming embrace of her tiresome family and they couldn’t agree more. But she can’t return home because she has no intention of forgiving her heartbroken husband, even if he comes crawling – a distinct possibility given his chosen method of trying to forget his woes. Oh, and the small matter of most of London society wanting her out of the way, some permanently, sends her quickly on her way to Italy, which is possibly the last place any sensible preternatural should go.
As with the first two books in the series there’s plenty of action as Alexia comes under attack early on and spends most of the novel avoiding all manner of potential assassins of the human, supernatural and mechanical variety. She finds that her surname meets with recognition, revulsion and scientific interest from the various characters she meets on her travels. Mostly this provides an exciting read, but sometimes it wasn’t quite as exciting as it should have been given the events being described. The first two novels were expertly paced throughout, but the urge to keep reading wasn’t so intense during the first half of this novel, even though Alexia is racing through Europe, finding out more about her preternatural background whilst often simultaneously fighting and fleeing the numerous would-be killers following close behind. Thankfully, about halfway through the novel, around the time she finally reaches Italy, the pace gets back on course and zips through winningly to the end.
As before, the vampires definitely play a secondary role to the werewolves, particularly as Lord Akaldama is mysteriously missing most of the time. However, even for a diehard vampire fan, I’m sure this book won’t disappoint. The werewolf characters are well-rounded, unique creations that effortlessly draw you into their world. I love the characters of Professor Lyall and Lord Maccon, so it’s a treat to have plenty of interplay between them as Professor Lyall has to discretely manage his Alpha’s undignified descent into total werewolf inebriation. These scenes were among my favourites, providing a lot of the humour in their portrayal of Lord Maccon’s struggle to maintain his position in werewolf society as well as his conviction that he knows best in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.
In addition to the supernatural theme, Carriger has always included a hefty dose of steampunk in this series and if that’s your thing, this certainly won’t disappoint. I’m not a great fan of steampunk in general, but even I enjoyed the crazy mechanical ladybugs! Other aspects of this third novel were also familiar and definitely welcome. These included more of Ivy’s atrocious hats and a dramatic, but poignant role for Biffy, the most precious of Lord Akaldama’s drones.
I loved the first two books in this series and I’d been eagerly anticipating book three. Therefore, I have to be honest and say that it’s not quite as excellent as the previous two, which I unhesitatingly gave five stars. But this is still a great read and this series continues to be an original and witty take on the paranormal action/romance novel. ‘…Less’ is definitely more when it comes to this series and I’m looking forward to the next instalment.
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