A lady always brings a parasol in case of emergencies.
Vampires. Creatures of the night, stalking-- wait a minute, haven't we been through this before? Oh. Right. Yes it's another book about vampires, werewolves, ghosts and the people who kill them. Or at least, one person. One particular woman with the powers to disarm these creatures of their very supernaturality. Powers which she only uses for good! Right? Right? Oh no, in fact she doesn't really use them much at all, or cares.
Here's the skinny:
In a alternate Victorian era rife with supernatural beings and weird science there is a woman. She is a bit different from others, though most people would think that the difference comes from the dark skin and large nose that she received from her Italian father. They would be partially right. Her strangeness was taken from her father, but the difference is not on the outside, but within her. She was born without a soul. This makes her the opposite of vampires, werewolves and the like, who are said to have an overabundance of soul. The technical term for her kind is "preternatural", though the vampires call her "soul-sucker". If she even touches one of their kind, the supernatural kind, she can drain them of their powers and make them mortal. But these are powers that she only rarely uses, though her kind have in the past been the natural enemy of the supernatural, she hasn't the inclination. The story starts with an attack on her by a strange rogue vampire, entangling her in a story of science and love.
What I liked:
Setting: I will admit a predilection towards steampunk novels, and really anything set in the Victorian era. At first I was worried that the steampunk setting would only be a backdrop, but the story soon becomes one of strange Victorian science which I enjoyed very much.
Witty: The writing is often very funny, with amusing turns of phrases that had me in stitches. Though the book often takes serious turns, it never manages to take itself too seriously, which is for me a plus.
Interesting Characters: I absolutely loved the characters. Our main character, Alexia, is sarcastic and always speaks her mind, but is also intelligent and thoughtful. She was "put on the shelf" early in life, and has resolutely remained a spinster for all of her twenty-six years. The hero (of sorts) is a werewolf. He is the Alpha wolf of the London pack, and is head of the bureau that polices supernatural creatures. I loved the interaction between these two and can't wait to see more in future books.
What I didn't like:
Obvious Romance Is Obvious: I felt that the romance between the hero and heroine could have been worked in more subtly. In the beginning there is no real indication that they have know each other or been on familiar terms for as long as they apparently (by the end) have. While I realize that both characters are rather blunt and so subtly would be beyond them, I never felt convinced that the heroine was convinced that she hated the hero (which is what she continued to claim for most of the book.) I also felt that the romance took over at inappropriate times, when I would have felt better being told more information about the rest of the plot.
The bottom line:
I enjoyed this book quite a lot. The setting, characters, and writing will keep me coming back for more from this author. The romance was a bit over done though, and I hope that it doesn't take over future books as much as it did this one. If it hadn't been for that, I would have rated it higher. But unfortunately can only give this one:
Eight out of ten apples.