Heartless by Gail Carriger
(The Parasol Protectorate #4)
Orbit Books (July 2011)
Paperback, 311 pages
Warning: contains spoilers for previous books
Heartless by Gail Carriger picks up where Blameless left off, with the pregnant Lady Alexia Maccon continuing to cause all manners of trouble whilst still having time to stop for those all-important cups of tea.
Our heroine is eight months pregnant and frustrated with her inabilities to function as she used to, as mobility is fast becoming an issue. The frequent scenes in which she has to be helped to her feet become more and more amusing as the book goes on, particularly when dirigibles become involved. Needless to say, with her typically stubborn nature those around her are wary of her moods and are ready to provide food and tea when the need arises.
As Alexia is a preternatural and Conall is a werewolf there is still speculation about what nature their child will be, with the vampire hives taking particular offence at the child. They wish to dispose of the child before it is even born and are out to ambush Alexia at any given opportunity. Desperate to deter the vampires, Alexia and her husband take up residence with the flamboyant Lord Akeldama, who was as fabulous as always.
However, dealing with pregnancy is not enough for Alexia and she soon hears of a plot to kill the queen, which, of course, she must investigate post-haste. The trail leads her to her husband’s past werewolf pack, as well as some unexpected knowledge concerning her preternatural father, Alessandro Tarabotti. It becomes clear that Madam LeFoux is also involved somehow – could she really be out to kill the queen of England?
Armed with her trusty parasol, Alexia undertakes what could be her most dangerous mission yet, as she races against time to decipher the plot to kill the queen and the imminent arrival of her infant inconvenience.
As always, I loved reading about the delightfully exciting life of Alexia Maccon, as she really takes centre stage throughout the series and you can’t help but read on until her story has been told. She was quite the handful throughout Heartless, with her pregnancy making her more demanding and being used to her advantage in her investigations. I like how you can still see her weaknesses despite her stubborn persona, as it is clear that the past still affects her when she finds out hidden truths, and that she is worried about the fate of her baby.
I loved the plot of this book, as it seemed to keep you guessing more than the previous instalments with some genuine shocking twists that I didn’t see coming. These twists mainly pertain to characters’ pasts, with emphasis on Professor Lyall, Conall and Alexia’s father. Throughout the investigation it is clear that the book is building up to her child’s birth, and of course a child of Alexia’s would pick the most inopportune time to arrive (but I won’t spoil this particular event). The nature of their child is unique and I’m excited to see the reactions to it in the following book.
I liked that Carriger used this book to showcase characters that haven’t taken a main role before, with emphasis on Lord Akeldama. I’ve mentioned before that he is by far my favourite character, so I loved that this book showed off more of his erratic nature. He provides excellent comic relief and lightens the mood instantaneously upon his arrival. We also get to learn more about the vampire hives, and get to meet Countess Nadasdy, who has been referred to before but never seen. In terms of the others, Madame LeFoux was a lot cagier than usual and not as willing to assist Alexia, and butler Floote also took a lesser role than previously. Even Conall doesn’t feature as much, as the book revolves around his wife’s antics.
Carriger has written another exciting story that kept me hooked, and as always I loved the setting of Victorian London and her descriptions of the fashions. Akeldama’s outfits are given more attention here (especially as Alexia moves in to his second closet), with best friend Ivy Hisselpenny’s outrageous hats not really being seen. I can’t wait to find out how the author will end this series, as each book brings something different and there are still unanswered questions about the past that need solutions.
Another great addition to the series, Heartless continues the adventures of feisty Alexia Maccon in brilliant style, and is by far one of my favourite books of The Parasol Protectorate series. Carriger’s unique form of humour and wit was present in abundance, and I loved the plot twists throughout. A lot of information about the past was revealed in this book, particularly concerning Alexia’s father, which I really enjoyed and look forward to finding out more in the last book. I also loved the large amount of Lord Akeldama scenes, as he brightens up any scene with his exuberance.
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