The Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Garriger
The Parasol Protectorate is a mystery, adventure, romance, comedy-of-manners series set in a Victorian steampunk world where all sorts of supernaturals reside in the open along with the Daylight folk — werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and even dastardly mad scientists.
Alexia Tarabotti is one of the very few Soulless in the world — a person who possess no soul of her own and can negate the supernatural in others. One touch from Alexia and vampires lose their fangs, werewolves lose their fur, and ghosts disappear forever.
As you may imagine, this makes Alexia both feared and loved by the supernatural community. Either they want her under their control or they want her dead, and they find all kinds of creative ways to accomplish their goals.
Alexia is joined on her adventures by a cast of wonderful characters including Lord Macon, a Scottish Alpha werewolf who is both annoyed and intrigued by Alexia; his proper English Beta, professor Lyle; Alexia’s good friend Miss Ivy Hisslepenny, who has an unfortunate taste in hats; Madam Lefoux, an eccentric French inventor who dresses as a man; and Lord Akeldama, the most stylish and informed vampire in all of Britain. Oh, la, darling!
The real beauty of this series, from my perspective is the combination of Ms. Carriger’s beautiful Victorian writing and the narration of Emily Gray on the audiobook version. Emily Gray does an amazing job of bringing all the characters, and the world as a whole, to life. While I might have dismissed these book as too “fluffy” to read, they are an utter delight in audio.
And had I dismissed them as “fluff,” it would have been my great mistake. While there is plenty of outrageous ridiculousness in these books, there is also an incredibly detailed world, a very intricate mystery, edge-of-your-seat action, and a story that builds through all five books. This is good writing and story telling, not just comedic “fluff.”
The writing world agrees. In addition to being a New York Times bestseller, Alexia’s adventures have won numerous awards for the fresh and funny writing, have been translated into 17 languages, have spawned a series of graphic novels, and have been optioned for television (see author’s website for details).
Ms. Carriger’s Finishing School series for young adults takes place in the same world as, but prior to the events of, the Parasol Protectorate, and Prudence, the first in the Custard Protocol series, takes place after. And yes, there is some character cross-over. While I’ve neither read nor listened to the Finishing School books, a sample of Moira Quirk’s reading promises all the character Gray brings to the narration, and Ms. Quirk will be narrating Prudence as well.
If you like audiobooks, steampunk, comedy, supernaturals, romance, dirigibles, and treacle tart, you really must experience the Parasol Protectorate. As Lord Akeldama might say, “It is simply the thing, my little cream puff. La!”