Friday Review: Competence (Custard Protocol #3) by Gail Carriger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third in the Custard Protocol series by Gail Carriger. The series follows the crew of the dirigible The Spotted Custard as they travel the globe, investigating, uncovering, and aiding supernatural events and beings. Oh, and there are hats, proper gowns, and tea time, of course. In this installment, the intrepid crew is off to South America to investigate a new type of vampire. Meanwhile, Prim Tunstell is dealing with the obvious attraction their crewmember werelioness has for her- and her increasing awareness that she might actually return those feelings.

For those who have read the first two in this series, it bears noting that while Prue is a major part of the cast, this is really Prim’s story. It is told mainly from Prim and her twin Percy’s point of view. I rather liked that, as we find out quite a bit more about both of the Tunstell siblings, their past as human children of a prominent vampire hive queen, and what motivates and excites these two.

As usual, I rather enjoyed the book. Let’s face it, these are not genre upending steampunk stories. Rather, they are fun romps that (gently) poke fun at the late 1800s society in which they are set. The story here is good, with the neat little twist on these new vampires that make them scary and kind of amusing at the same time. There’s a decent amount of action, with the usual steampunk sort of weaponry alongside battle parasols and that sometimes deadly werelioness. As I said above, it was nice to take a deeper dive into Percy and, especially, Prim here. Prim’s turmoil as she slowly comes to realize she truly is attracted to the very strong-willed loiness shifter is believable. You feel the anguish as Prim, ever the proper young lady, deals with the idea of romance with another woman. “What will they think?” is a recurring question, and feels like exactly what a young lady brought up in society with certain expectations, would find problematic. We also see, along with the usual quarreling between Prim and Percy, a real affection and connection between the twins.

Overall, it’s a fun story, a fairly quick read, and if you are a fan of lighter steampunk with broad strokes of humor, it might be a good fit.

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