21 July 2012

Timeless, Parasol Protectorate #5 (Gail Carriger)

N.B. As Timeless is the final (*sniff*) volume in the Parasol Protectorate series, this'll be more or less a (rave) review of the whole shebang. Which is to say: there may be spoilers.

So, plotwise, how does this final installment wrap things up for us? With enough ribbons and ruffles to please even Ivy Tunstell (née Hisselpenny), and enough neat, logical conclusions for Lady Alexia Tarabotti Maccon's ultra-rational nature. (Gotta love that our heroine is so coolly analytical, especially with her werewolf husband being so passionate in all his emotions. Turnabout fair play, and all that.) Said couple, and toddler daughter, Prudence, travel to Egypt with husband, Tunstells, Tunstell offspring, and acting troupe in tow in response to a mysterious summons from the ancient vampire queen of the Alexandria Hive (who turns out to be Hatshepsut herself!). Prudence is neither supernatural like her father nor preternatural like her mother--rather, she's a new creature entirely, dubbed "metanatural"--whereas Alexia's touch renders a vampire or werewolf mortal while she maintains the contact, Prudence's sucks it right out of them and into her, leaving them human till sunrise--and herself an itty-bitty vampire or, adorably, a wolf pup. (I had a pretty awesome time on Google image search looking for reference photos to better picture the latter. Lookit Mr. Howly Pants among the dandelions!!!!!) Meanwhile, in London, an unexpected romance develops.

Allow me to indulge in comparison: reading this series is as delicious, light, piquant, and satisfying as eating a whole box of macarons and washing them down with Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA (which my brother-in-law describes as a "punch-you-in-the-face beer"). If I were forced to pick my two favorite aspects? 'Twould be, first, the effortless mix of genres: mystery, romance, steampunk, alternate history, fantasy, comedy . . . any I'm forgetting? Second, Carriger's wit, sharp and sweet by turns, wonderfully dependent on elevated vocabulary and meandering sentence structure, a la Austen, a la Wodehouse, a la awesomesauce. I'm sad to bid adieu to this particular narrative arc, but giddy with glee that the author is planning to spend more time exploring the world she's created, first in a four-book YA series which begins with Etiquette & Espionage in February 2013, and then in a sequel adult series called The Parasol Protectorate Abroad, scheduled for fall of next year. I'll read all of 'em.

Oh, and I also love that the cover art for all these books actually depicts costumes described in the text. Such an oddly unusual harmony!

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