Soulless 2: the manga by Gail Carriger & REM

Soulless 2

a review by Nalini Haynes

Soulless 2 of the manga series is the second of the Parasol Protectorate series written by Gail Carriger converted into manga by REM; the original novel is Changeless. Just in case you missed my review of the original novel, it’s here.

Soulless 2 begins after Alexia Tarabotti and Conall Maccon are married. Alexia has had the opportunity to settle into her position as Muhjah for Queen Victoria (read Soulless 1 for an explanation of Muhjah, it’s complicated). Vampires and werewolves experience humanisation in a geographic location, worrying everyone enormously. Maccon is called in to investigate. Alexia is accused of being the source of the humanisation problem. Politics abound.

Maccon rushes to Scotland to investigate his former werewolf pack, which is in disarray after losing its Alpha. Alexia follows him via dirigible, with a few attempts on her life on the journey. Alexia’s sister and Ivy Hisselpenny, lover of outrageous hats, wangle invites to join Alexia as well, causing mayhem and comedy throughout. Madame Lefoux, the inventor from Soulless, joins Alexia on her journey to Scotland, bringing a new level of naughtiness to the plot and storyline.

The dirigible journey provides ample opportunity to showcase ‘floating’ fashions along the way: modesty requires skirts to be bound around one’s legs, hats must be tied on and goggles become a necessity. Although well described in the books, I loved the artwork that emphasised the alienness of dirigible travel to modern sensibilities.  Ivy’s predilection for atrocious hats also comes into the fore with the artwork.

While Soulless can be read as a stand alone story, Soulless 2 needs to be read as the sequel to Soulless 1 and also has a cliff-hanger ending. I love the original version but the manga version is an essential addition, enhancing the Parasol Protectorate experience with its visualisations of characters, fashions and particular exchanges.  Highly recommended.