Sunday, June 6, 2010

Changeless


Alexia Tarabotti (now Maccon) is involved in another mystery and off on another adventure. The vampires and werewolves in London have found themselves afflicted with normalcy: they have become temporarily human and, therefore, mortal. They are understandably upset, but mistakenly assume that it's Alexia's doing. In the midst of this mystery, Lord Maccon, Alexia's hot tempered Alpha werewolf husband, has disappeared without any indication as to where he was going. In addition, he left his poor wife with a large regiment of werewolves on her front lawn. Now, Alexia needs to travel to Scotland to track down and warn her husband of the normalizing force coming his way with an entourage of random people including Ivy Hisselpenny, her sister Felicity, Madame Lefoux the milliner and inventor, her husband's valet, and her maid Angelique. On her voyage by dirigible, there are multiple attempts both to kill her and to steal things from her. Can Alexia figure out what is causing this normalizing condition before someone succeeds in killing her?

Alexia's narrative is a joy to read because of her wit and intelligence. She's a very sensible person with a clear, logical stream of thought. She is different from everyone else in the novel because she is soulless and lacks the creativity of those with souls. This isn't a hindrance to her, however. It's amazing the way she takes almost everything in stride, from attempts on her life to Ivy Hisselpenny's hideous hats. The only thing that I disagree with her on is matters of the heart. I think this is her great flaw because such things cannot be decided with purely logic. She also seems to doubt her love for Lord Maccon sometimes, perhaps because love isn't logical and she can't fully understand it. Her love for him is undeniable no matter how much she may try to use reason to try to find reason within it. The rest of the colorful supporting characters and their respective stories only added dimensions to the novel. My favorite of these people is still the incomparable Lord Akeldama with his cheerful nature and daring fashions.

This story is more character driven, so the story does move much slower than that of the first installment. I love being immersed in Alexia's world of the supernatural and science, so I didn't mind moving more leisurely through it. One aspect I really like was the blend of fact and fiction. Although there are vampires, ghosts, and werewolves, the social constructs and main influences on the Victorian era remain the same. The burgeoning technology of the era, although often fictional technology in the novel, is reflective of the dominance of science over religion and the heavy influence of the writings of Charles Darwin. Social constructs where also addressed with the forbidden romance between Ivy and Lord Maccon's valet, Tunstell (who is also an actor). A relationship between is highly looked down upon because of Tunstell's profession and his low standing within society. Ivy is also engaged to a man she doesn't love and must choose between love and convenience. Another aspect of social commentary is the fact that although Alexia is a strong willed and independent woman, she still cannot do certain things in society without a scandal, including trekking to Scotland by herself. In this look at Victorian society, it felt very much like the view offered in John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman. Changeless also offered a more in depth look at the alternative history of its world, such as the vampiric influences of England's fashion and acceptable activities.

The one aspect I did not like in the story was the "mummy unwrapping party" and the complete disregard for preserving Ancient Egyptian antiquities. I know that it seems silly, but I've always been interested in archaeology and Egyptology. And I do acknowledge that the attitude of those in the novel is indeed consistent with what was the mentality then, but it doesn't mean I have to like it. Archaeology then was simply grave robbing and was more destructive than helpful in the field. This one thing was only a momentary annoyance in a largely wonderful book.

I absolutely loved Changeless. This book had everything: political intrigue, romance, humor, dirigibles, and, of course, parasols. The book ended on a cliffhanger and totally infuriated me. I wanted to shake one character until they passed out. I can't wait for the next novel set to release in September!

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

**Read my review of the first book in the series here.**

**Posted for Velvet's Steampink week at vvb32 Reads and Gail Carriger's super awesome review contest.**

4 comments:

Sullivan McPig said...

Nice review.
I also wanted to kick a certain character, but I don't think it was the same character.

Jami said...

I skimmed through the review because I have yet to read the first book, and I didn't want to spoil anything! From what you say, this sounds like a great series! And I have a love/hate thing with those cliffhangers! They can be so evil! :D

Josette said...

Oh well, sometimes love does make things seem completely illogical. :)

Is this a series of books? It does sound good and I've been seeing it on most blogs. I might check it out!

titania86 said...

@ Josette: This is the second book in the Parasol Protectorate series. The first is called Soulless and the third is coming out in September. I highly recommend them. :)