There are so many wonderful reviews of this book already out there and that is because it is a charming book, with style and enough quirkiness to make it an enormously fun read.
I love Gail Garriger's choice of words and the feel of her sentences, such as "a family that specialized in being both inconvenient and asinine.
" The description on pages 32-33 concerning Ivy and Alexia's friendship is an excellent example of why I enjoyed the style of this book.
It is a unique blend of an alternate 19th century England, with a touch of magic, a world peopled by ghosts, vampires, werewolves and the rare preternaturals. In this world, everyone knows of these creatures existence, but not everyone is happy about their existence, much less their influence in British culture and politics. To that end, our heroine Alexia must deal with several extremely incommodious attempts at abduction by said persons and even great peril to her health, whilst also trying to determine whether or not she loves the mercurial and tempestuous Lord Macon. Because Alexia and Macon have known each other for several years, you do not see them getting to know each other, but it did not bother me unduly as they seem well suited to each other. A few plot points, esp. one concerning the American, I saw coming from around the corner, but the story as a whole was fresh and I am terribly interested to read the sequels in this trilogy. And it is a good thing it is a trilogy, as there are too many aspects of this world that need further exploration.
Also, the romance in this book was more graphic than is my general fare and more than I am personally comfortable with. Just a heads-up.
Alexia does marry Conall Macon and becomes a member of Queen Victoria's Shadow Parliament, but her troubles and thus adventures are far from over. She may have escaped death at the hands of those who fear her and her husband's kind, but these individuals, who have a strange affinity for octopi, have fanaticism driving their actions, so things are only just beginning.
Next comes Changeless, due out April 2010 (date subject to change)
Content Advisory: Nudity, graphic sensuality (and rather tasteless in my estimation), etc. You have been forewarned.
A few random notes: I found the concept of a person without a soul extremely difficult to get into. The author makes reference sometimes to Alexia lacking in morals, thus having to choose a code of ethics, or lacking style, etc., but so complete in other things and I wonder if a) the condition is mistermed/ misunderstood or b) it is not well conceived.