Heartless by Gail Carriger – Review

Book Jacket:

Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband’s past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux’s latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf’s clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama’s second best closet?


Delightful silliness abounds once again in the forth installment of the Parasol Protectorate series. Alexia sallies forth in her indomitable style, not about to let a little thing like late term pregnancy stop her from foiling a conspiracy to kill the Queen.

Alexia is such a character – headstrong, forthright, and delightfully witty. It’s impossible not to enjoy spending time with her, even more so when she’s butting heads with her equally determined husband, as she does for most of this book. For those gentle readers distressed by the lack of togetherness in Blameless, this book will more than reward you for your patience.

One of my favorite things about Heartless is how it gives particular attention to some of our favorite secondary characters – notably Lyall and Floote, the long-suffering loyal retainers. I also ridiculously enjoyed the developments with regards to Alexia’s family – there were juicy reveals, pertaining to both past and present, that made for delicious fun.

The pure wit of this series, from the delightfully tongue in cheek to the gloriously ridiculous, easily eclipses any thoughts of plot construction, but I have to admit I was ahead of several crucial reveals, as far as the mystery goes. (Agatha Christie taught me well.) Honestly, the characters have always far outshone the plot points of this series, and this book proves to be no exception. If I were to consider this book strictly from a mystery standpoint, all fun and froth aside, I would probably have to call it only adequate – but to do so would miss the entire point of this series. This book does have a slightly more stately air than the previous books in the series – Gail Carriger has called Heartless her ode to a Sherlockian mystery, and as such it does have a slightly more serious mien, but honestly you’ll still be having far too much fun to take umbrage. And I will say, plot-wise, there is one very fun twist that I did not see coming at all.

Once again, Gail Carriger delivers a wonderful romp, replete with mannerly humor and humorous manners (the unsightly cravats nearly had me undone). But if you are just considering picking up this series for the first time, egad, don’t start here! Of all the books in this series, this would be the worst place to start, as this story references many, many pieces from the previous books, and will bewilder those not familiar with the series. But for us faithful fans, there is a wonderful sense of things being woven together, of questions being answered and of a story inexorably closing in on its grand finale, Timeless. And I for one cannot wait to see how this story ends.

Byrt Grade: A

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Publishers Weekly says:

Carriger’s writing remains crisp and witty, and the affectionate banter between Lord and Lady Maccon will please series fans distressed by their long separation in 2010’s Blameless.

What Sarah Reads says:

These books are delicious. They are riotous fun; Jane Austen meets a steampunk Victorian London awash with supernaturals alongside a dash of fashion, sexiness and manners. You’ll read, you’ll re-read and along with me you’ll await Book Five. Hail the victorious parasol.

All Things Urban Fantasy says:

Overall, book four in this indomitably clever and charming series, is as delightful as I hoped.