By Gail Carriger
This is a spin off from The Parasol Protectorate Series. You could probably read this without having read that series, but why would you want to? It’s got steam punk and gaslight elements with all sorts of supernatural creatures, and manners, it is quite the most mannerly steam punk series to date. Plus, if you don’t read the Parasol Protectorate and maybe the Finishing School series first, I may just spoil them for you. Alexia Tarabotti, being soulless, had to come up with some way to behave in polite society, and manners worked nicely enough. Her daughter on the other hand is an entirely different sort of creature.
“Frankly, all I learnt is that I must give up bloomers. Perhaps a short silk underskirt would work better? It’s the tail, you see, it rips the seams.”
Rue (and she definitely still hasn’t forgiven her mother for naming her Prudence), grew up to be just as spunky, and funny, and slightly spoiled as I had expected her to. How could she not, having been raised by the most fashionable Rove vampire, the Alpha werewolf, and a soulless mother – yes there were politics involved in that decision, but you are going to have to read the Parasol Protectorate to get that cleared up. Primrose, on the other hand, grew up to be no where near the flibbertigibbet her mother was. And Quesnel grew up to be quite a rake, though that’s hardly a surprise as he is after all, French.
When Lord Akeldama gives Rue a new dirigible and a mission for new tea in India, a precipitous leave taking due to a fashion emergency leaves our intrepid heroines in the lurch as far as information. Rue is well on her way in espionage, like her mother, though she doesn’t precisely know that. Rue and Primrose have mad cap adventures, intrigue, and disasters. And they discover the world isn’t quite what they were led to believe, and that with adventure comes responsibility.
That sounds rather staid, but frankly, this book is charming, and for the most part so is Rue. It is sort of like the film The Avengers, except charming instead of irritating. Rue and Prim put on these ridiculous characters, for the most part, knowing they are being ridiculous but not caring so long as it obtains their ends. Overall, I really enjoyed this story, and I think the travel angle was an excellent choices so the reader could learn about Rue as an adult instead of merely being bogged down by characters from the previous series. But, I’ll admit, I am definitely looking forward to the next book when Rue will be back in the heart of London. There was also a touch of a romantic element, but nothing that detracts from the story.