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Timeless by Gail Carriger

A review by Nalini Haynes

Timeless is the fifth and final instalment in the Parasol Protectorate series, a delicious romantic adventure comedy in the steampunk genre with werewolves and vampires, Victorian manners and politics.

In the beginning Alexia Tarabotti was a young woman of intelligence but few sensibilities. Her lack of soul made her a preternatural: able to exorcise ghosts and turn other supernaturals mortal with her touch. Lord Akeldama is a gay vampire whose style and etiquette is everything one could wish for in a Victorian dandy. We also meet  Conall Maccon, a rough and ready werewolf with a gruff heart of gold who is, against his better judgement, attracted to the inconvenient Alexia.

Spoilers for earlier books

Spoilers for the earlier books now abound. If you haven’t read them already, skip this review and go and read them immediately!

Conall and Alexia fall in love inconveniently and, worse still, get married. To top it all off, Alexia then falls pregnant. Remember she turns her husband mortal with her touch? Well, he forgot this pertinent fact while enraged with jealousy over Alexia’s apparent unfaithfulness. Drama! Tension! Resolution then… TIMELESS.

The problem remaining is the child, a source of great concern to the supernatural community, and a political nightmare. A solution was proposed at the beginning of book 4, which was, incidentally, the first book I read in this series. I fell in love with the Parasol Protectorate in chapter 1 book 4, when I met Alexia, large with child, struggling to rise from a chair, surrounded by men (?) whose survival skills included producing food for her on demand and placating her whilst presenting her with a solution to the political problem. Lord Akeldama would adopt Alexia’s child. Another adventure ensued, ending with the birth of the baby and the settling of domestic arrangements.

Book five commences. The inappropriately named Prudence, Alexia’s daughter, is a toddler ruling the combined households of Lord Akeldama’s gay hive and Conall Maccon’s wolf pack as only a toddler can. Prudence’s bath night took the combined might of both households to execute without disaster. She absorbed the immortal state of vampires or werewolves upon touch. This resulted in Prudence leaping on to a mantelpiece, lisping her refusal of her bath around fangs, then she turned into a puppy and romped down the street. (During the June 2023 update I realize I NEED TO RE-READ THESE BOOKS. It’s been a while. And they are delicious and delightful.)

The verdict

The combination of Victorian manners and madcap adventure woven around pregnancy and then child raising makes this unique story all the more delightful. Carriger spoofs real-life difficulties with raising children while successfully combining action and adventure into an engaging story. Then she wrapped the series while it still fresh. (And then, years after this review was originally written, Carriger wrote a sequel series!)

Carriger’s conclusion to the story arc is, in nearly every way satisfying. She previously stated that she intended to continue working in this world but not with these characters. It is my hope that Prudence is one of the characters she takes into future stories, but as a teen or grown woman. (And I was NOT disappointed! Spotted Custard Protocol is not to be missed!)

I give Timeless 5 stars for worldbuilding, character development, aesthetics, plot, story arc, conclusion and, most of all, for providing a satisfying pregnancy and child-rearing experience after the ‘happily ever after’.

Gail Carriger visited DMZ in this podcast. This review was updated on 11 June 2023 to meet SEO whims and to add in some editorial notes… like this one.

Timeless: a woman dressed in Victorian garb holding a parasol stands in front of a Sphinx and a pyramid. NYT bestseller sticker.

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


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