Anthropology graduate, anglophile, social justice activist, chocoholic, traveler and book lover from the German-speaking part of Switzerland, currently working in the renewable energy sector. Books have been my passion since before I could read.
Considering using this as a replacement for my Goodreads account, where I've been keeping track of what I read (audiobooks included). You can find a record of the dead-tree books I own on LibraryThing. As of now I haven't imported those yet.
I love the <em>Parasol Protectorate</em> books - they were the first steampunk romances I really got into, and they had me laughing out loud while still caring very much for Gail Carriger's characters.
I didn't really get into the YA <em>Finishing School</em> prequels and got stuck in the middle of the second one, so I wasn't sure whether the magic was gone for good - but luckily, finishing wasn't a problem with this one. I listened to the audiobook, which is excellently read by Moira Quirk, and really enjoyed going on a big adventure along with Prudence Akeldama Maccon.
Rue, an irrepressible young woman who grew up raised by vampires, werewolves and a preternatural mother, is somewhat spoiled and thinks she's cleverer than she is. The latter got somewhat annoying at times (seriously, how can she believe all that spy stuff is about <em>tea</em>?), but mostly she's a rather endearing protagonist who ends up way in over her head in India, of all places, and muddles through the best she can. Just like all of us - except that she has her own airship and can "steal" supernatural abilities, a gift from her preternatural mother and werewolf father.
But as with the Parasol Protectorate, it's the supporting cast that sells this book. Not only do we get to re-visit beloved characters from the previous books, with the added twist of seeing them through Rue's eyes (Biffy, for example is her uncle Rabiffano, who seems sad about being a werewolf sometimes, which Rue doesn't understand), but she has her own posse of quirky friends. Most notably these are Ivy Tunstell's daughter Primrose and Qesnel Lefou. With the former she shares a great friendship, the backbone of her life, and with the latter a teasing flirtation that might tip into something more serious - or not.
All these are good points - however, there's some bad as well. Rue's immaturity, as mentioned, gets a bit annoying, and while it's great to get out of England, there's too much time spent on detailing life aboard the <em>Spotted Custard</em>. And then there's the whole problem of viewing India through the eyes of imperialists. Carriger points out several times how this view colours the perspectives of the British characters, but there is still too much objectification and I felt a bit uncomfortable at times. I'm hoping in future books, with Miss Sekhmet a fixed part of the crew and hopefully a closer look at the mysterious Vanaras, might give us less of a "white people fix everything".
Overall, the story was fun, but it left me a little cold, especially in comparison to the love I have for <em>Soulless</em>. However, I'll definitely be pre-ordering the next one!