Heartless (Parasol Protectorate #4)

Sorry for the delay – I’ve been swamped with non-review work (i..e., data work that pays bills, boo! hiss!) but I’m back and ready to review. Who knew reading and writing about books would help restore my sanity?

Spoilers and reviews ahoy!

heartless coverPlot (from Indiebound)

Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband’s past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux’s latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf’s clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama’s second best closet?

Personal histories

Heartless hints at the shady pasts of featured characters like Lord Akeldama and Professor Lyall. Akeldama’s grand fashion statements and chummy charm aside, he’s someone I’ve wanted to know more about since book one. We definitely get a great glimpse his home and his penchant for masterful social and political maneuvering. Given his status as Prudence’s adopted father, I’m definitely hoping we’ll see more of him. Maybe we’ll even discover more about his secretive past and the ever-present somnolent cat. Lyall, on the other hand, is the polar opposite in style and personality of Akeldama. I’ve learned that the more nondescript a character tries to be, the more likely it is they’ve got a shockingly juicy past. And oh boy is his revealed affair with a certain preternatural juicy. Needless to say, I need more details about all of these characters and their various liaisons stat.

Extended World-Building

This latest volume is full of new information about the story’s magic mechanics. Despite Alexia sporting an almost unprecedented pregnancy, Carrigan reveals almost nothing about the nature and talents of the infant inconvenience. Prudence’s birth shows exactly what a “skin stealer/skinwalker” can do: turn into a werewolf, vampire or human simply by touch. Little Prudence shifts seamlessly and painlessly from regular human baby to snoozing werewolf cub by simply being picked by Lord Maccon. With so much fanfare and action due to the baby’s birth, it was extremely gratifying to get a sneak peek at the type of power and abilities she’ll display. I can’t wait to read the next installment and see what other abilities the little one displays.

Family Frustrations

Alexia’s half-sister Felicity makes a surprising return in this volume. As frustrating as ever, her presence sheds some light on Alexia’s previous assassination attempts. It turns out Felicity has been a double-agent for the vampires since shortly after Alexia’s pregnancy, feeding information to them for the chance at being a drone for the Westminster Hive. (Vampire status would be such a social coup.) Her cover: feigned interest in the women’s suffrage movement. OH MY GOD!!!! Felicity, I knew you were duplicitous and self-serving but really?!?! To the evil arm of the vampire nation?! I’m simultaneously stunned and unsurprised. Her sister’s treachery is uncovered when Alexia visits the Hive queen in her home and discovers Felicity being served as tea. Personally, I’m looking forward to finding out how the rest of Alexia’s family will respond her sister’s supernatural endeavor. Alexia’s non-supernatural, frustrating family is usually on the periphery of her personal world and it’s refreshing to see them pop up in critical ways from time to time. The story features similarly well-executed revelations which are all supremely satisfying and entertaining.

Drastic Change of Scenery

As what usually follows the arrival of the babies, Alexia’s pack experiences a giant upheaval. The Westminster Hive finds itself established in Woolsey Castle after a swift and destructive attack on their London locale. However, any dwelling the hive enters after swarming becomes its home. PERMANENTLY. Alexia inadvertently brings the Westminster – now Woosley – Hive home to roost and the pack find themselves preparing for a sudden and swift departure. At the risk of sounding ridiculously Victorian, I found myself keenly feeling the loss of Woolsey Castle. The stronghold was the perfect home for the werewolf pack and a great throwback to the classic imagery associated with their supernatural legends. The werewolves’ rustic and rural location also highlighted their values and social differences between the more urbane vampires. But a radical shake up in setting can serve as a springboard for promising character growth and new situations and challenges. For the sake of the baby and the pack, Alexia and Conall decide to move the group to London and become the first urban werewolf pack in recorded history. Country werewolves in London living next to vampires and howling underneath a hatshop will prove to be utterly fascinating. Yet another reason to pick up Timeless and see how these crazy, paranormal kids are doing.

Summed Up Thoughts

5 out of 5 stars

Chock full of the fabulous and swift wit, wry humor, and madcap adventure-mystery Carrigan’s series is well-known for. Fans of the series will not be disappointed with this volume’s content, fast pace, and always impeccable style.

 

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