Changeless by Gail Carriger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second book in the Parasol Protectorate series and is as much fun as the first, despite a rather underhanded cliffhanger ending. In this part of the series, Alexia, the new Lady Maccon, is awakened mid-afternoon by her husband yelling. Now, Lord Maccon yelling is not an unusual thing, but at mid-afternoon, he, like any decent werewolf, should be asleep. When he finishes yelling, he leaves, without telling her where he is going or why. So, like any good Victorian wife, Alexia follows him. It turns out that something is causing the supernaturals in London to lose their supernatural abilities, something that only Alexia, being soulless, should be able to do. She tracks Connall and the mystery ailment to Scotland, and his family pack, who he had left years before. With her are her sister Felicity, her best friend Ivy Hisslepenny (and her hats!), her French maid Angelique, and her husband’s valet. And from there, as they say, hijinks ensue.
This second book in the series is no less fun than the first. Alexia is in top form, quite concerned, as any proper Victorian lady, with fashion, manners, and parasols. Of course, with Lady Maccon, nothing is quite as it seems, especially the parasols. Armed with intelligence and biting civility, she manages to get the best of everyone, including her husband.
The alternate, steampunk inspired Victorian setting is at times dark and foggy; at others, bright and full of gadgets. Characters are true to their Victorian heritage, if sometimes a bit over the top, but that is part of the fun. The mystery has twists and turns, and is resolved well. Pacing is good. There is not a lot of fast-paced action, but the story moves forward quickly.
The problem? The tagged-on cliffhanger ending. Not that I don’t like cliffhangers, but in this case, it is all too obvious that this was added to push the next book in the series. It seemed a little contrived and felt like a bit of a cheat. I would have read the next anyway, simply because I like the books. Still, it is not enough to make me say don’t read this. It is a romp and quite enjoyable.