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Heartless by Gail Carriger

A review by Nalini Haynes

Lady Alexia Tarabotti Maccon lives in steampunk Victorian England. Alexia’s husband is Conall Maccon, an alpha werewolf responsible for a pack. Alexia also associates with vampires in the course of her duties as mujah to Queen Victoria. The prologue gives a brief recap of the most pertinent points, which are that Alexia is pregnant to a werewolf and there is great concern about her projeny in supernatural and government circles.  Heartless opens with Alexia indignant because Conall Maccon, Professor Lyall (beta werewolf to the pack) and Lord Akeldama, a rove vampire, confronted her. They decided Lord Akeldama will adopt the baby to prevent further assassination attempts on the child and Alexia.

A ghost confronts Alexia with news of an assassination attempt on the queen, inspiring Alexia to continue working although only weeks from her expected confinement.

Prior to Heartless, I hadn’t read any of the Parasol Protectorate series; word of mouth had me curious. In the first chapter, the descriptions of Alexia pregnant and the survival tactics of those around her had me laughing out loud. Throughout the plot moved smartly, building to a timely climax, providing many chuckles along the way.

Heartless is a cross between Pride and Prejudice and The Importance of Being Earnest with a steampunk setting, plus vampires, werewolves and preternaturals experiencing much more action. I’d recommend starting at the beginning of the series as some of the basics of this world were not explained. I’m definitely a fan, and want to read the rest of the series. Highly recommended.

Gail Carriger is a DMZ podcast guest

On 12 June 2023, DMZ is proud to welcome Gail Carriger as a podcast guest.

Previous publication and update details

Previously published in the PDF publication Dark Matter issue 4, July 2011. This blog post was predated to reflect the original publication date. Nalini updated this post on 11 June 2023. Now it includes a working image for the book cover, it panders to SEO whims, and she fixed a typo (eep). And there’s a link to DMZ’s podcast featuring Gail Carriger herself!

Heartless cover: a dark haired woman wearing Victorian garb looks at the reader. New York Times Bestseller sticker.

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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