Heartless (Parasol Protectorate #4)
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit Books
American release date: July 1, 2011
Format/Genre/Length: Novel/Paranormal Steampunk/374 pages
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: NR/Suitable for teens and up
Overall Personal Rating : ☆☆☆☆☆
It seems that Alexia’s unexpected (and hitherto considered impossible) pregnancy has thrown the supernatural world into something of a tizzy (now that her husband has removed his head from his nether regions long enough to realize that the child is indeed his and none other’s). But it seems they have a plan. Lord Maccon, Lord Akeldama, and Professor Lyall, that is. They’ve been hatching their idea for five months, and have decided that now’s a good time to let Alexia in on their little scheme. (Nice of them, considering it’s her child they’re talking about). In light of the fact that Alexia has become the target of numerous annoying and inconvenient assassination attempts, she must give the child up. To Lord Akeldama;s care.
Not surprisingly (except in the minds of the three gentlemen in question), Alexia does not fall in with their plan with handclapping and enthusiastic cheers. Rather, she’s totally against it. What mother would wish such a thing, to give up her child from birth? Really, gentlemen, be serious! But, with time to think, she, as always, has a better plan, one that will have the same result and not get her thrown out of her child’s life at one and the same time.
Alexia’s idea is to relocate herself and her husband into the townhouse next to Lord Akeldama’s, and to have a secret access to his home whereby they actually will live in his home, near their child, but for appearance’s sake, their address will be next door. Simple, eh? The hive’s fear centers around the child and what he or she may be capable of—namely their destruction. They feel that if said child were to be under Lord A’s tutelage, said crisis could be averted. However, just because a decision is reached doesn’t mean everyone has gotten the memo, and for now the attacks continue. Including one involving zombie hedgehogs.
Nothing in Alexia’s life is ever easy. Young Biffy, formerly one of Lord Akeldama’s drones (and the love of his life), now part of the Woolsey pack, is not adapting to his new condition well, and causes a great deal of trouble around the time of the full moon. Alexia’s sister, Felicity Loontwill, has taken it into her head to espouse women’s suffrage, and decides now, of all times, that she must be independent and free—while living with and dependent upon her sister. Madame Lefoux seems troubled to Alexia, but she isn’t sure why and the inventor isn’t confiding. Perhaps it is because her beloved aunt, Formerly Lefoux, the ghost, is about to end all existence at any time. But what is that derby-shaped contraption in Genevieve’s basement all about?
Then there is the ghost who shows up unexpectedly with a message for Alexia, warning of danger to the queen. Just when Alexia is in need of her wits the most, she finds that her advanced pregnancy has addled them, not to mention her increased bulk makes getting about fairly difficult at times. Especially when under fire. But that doesn’t keep her from impersonating a cook in search of unemployment, as she and Floote scuttle about the neighborhood, searching for clues.
Can anything else possibly go wrong in Alexia’s life?
Of course it can…
The fourth volume in the Parasol Protectorate series is every bit as engaging as its predecessors, filled with the wit, the action, the suspense and the manners which we’ve come to expect from Gail Carriger. I have to say that as a mother, the solution which the gentlemen proposed at the beginning of the book set my teeth on edge. I understand why Alexia compromised as she did, but I would never be happy with such an arrangement, and I’d fight tooth and nail to keep my child. That being said, I have hopes that something will happen in the final volume to allow the family a normal life. That’s a relative term, by the way, as we are talking about a preternatural and a werewolf here, and who knows what the child will be?
My next consideration of ponderance is why on earth Biffy and Lord Akeldama can’t still be together, even if they are different species? Alexia and Conall manage quite well. It’s a matter of the heart, and if they work at it, I don’t see why it can’t be done. Perhaps the answer will lie in the next book.
Gail Carriger has drawn her characters superbly. Each and everyone pops out at you distinctly; there’s no mistaking one for another. Even the annoying ones, such as Felicity (whom I wish to beat down on a regular basis). At least we are spared the presence of Alexia’s insipid Mama and the rest of her mindless brood. Please let that last!
Carriger has given new meaning and depth to the steampunk genre, combining it with paranormal romance and coming up with one whale of a tale. Alexia Tarabotti Maccon is one of the best heroines ever. Were I ever to find myself in a fight, I’d definitely want her on my side. And her hubby certainly gives new meaning to the phrase sexy beast!
I read somewhere that there’s been a bit of dissension regarding the novel’s cover. I must say that I quite like the colors, and think they are rather fitting. I also like the backdrop of Woolsey.
I highly recommend this series to everyone. I’m greatly looking forward to the next volume; I’m sorry that it will be the last. However, take heart. Another series is about to begin—The Finishing School. I’m sure it shall be great fun too! Rest assured, I shall review that as well.