My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In this third installment of Carriger’s paranormal steampunk series, Alexia has been kicked out by her werewolf husband because she’s pregnant and werewolves are known to be sterile. She has returned to her family, but things have never been overly familial there, and when the news of her “predicament” becomes public knowledge, it becomes clear that the family would prefer that Alexia not remain. She can’t find Lord Akeldama, who has mysteriously disappeared with his entire household, and someone seems to want her dead. She decides that a trip to Italy to learn more about her father and her preternatural nature might be just the thing. Accompanied by the always proper Floote and inventor/haberdasher Madame LeFoux, Alexia sets out to uncover her background and deal with her growing “infant-inconvenience”. Meanwhile, the supernatural community in London is having its own problems, not the least of which is the unrelenting drunken state of its alpha werewolf, Lord Maccon, who can’t quite bring himself to admit (sober or drunk) that he may have done poorly by Alexia.
Okay, maybe this wasn’t up to the level of the first book. It was still fun. Carriger’s signature style and wit always shine in these stories, and the characters are generally delightful. There were a few hiccups along the way, but there was also plenty of action and adventure and wonderfully unbelievable predicaments for Alexia to get mixed up in. Zingy one-liners, the proper dress (and hat!), and plenty of grit and determination are the hallmarks of Alexia’s existence. She pushes on in the quest to uncover who her father was and why she even exists, trusty parasol ever at her side. There are a number of new characters introduced, and some old friends are still on the scene, if in minor roles. Oh, and did I mention killer ladybugs, formaldehyde intoxication, Templars, and pesto? All lovely little tidbits that add to the flavor.
There are a few quibbles, though. Alexia is still wallowing a bit at the beginning of the book and, even though she feels betrayed by Conall, I found it a bit much from her usual no-nonsense personality. Their reunion at the end, while inevitable, of course, was a bit rushed feeling. Yes, they both had time to work out their own feelings and anger internally, but I expected a bit more of their rather unique and feisty relationship to surface when they finally got back together.
Those are minor points, however. Overall, the book is fun and easy to read. It’s not supposed to be deep and fraught with emotion and angst, and it isn’t. What it is, is a nice third part to the series. Witty and light in many spots, it is true to its steampunk roots and to Carriger’s humor and style.
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