Gothic Victorian Vampirical Novels

Soulless, by Gail Carriger (An Alexia Tarabotti Novel)

"Why is it, Miss Tarabotti, every time I have to clean up a mess in a library, you just happen to be in the middle of it?"

What a delightful find in this book! If you enjoy Victorian romance novels with strong female leads this book is for you. Oh, and did I mention the book is full of werewolves and vampires?

First impression was that this book reminded me of the Sookie Stackhouse series, only set in Victorian times. Alexia is a strong-opinioned spinster who lives with her tragically simple family who underestimates her at every turn, and don’t really understand her. Her father, an Italian (Italians are constantly derided in this book!), died a long time ago and apparently passed on his large nose and Italian-ness to his daughter, two flaws which mean that everyone understands she will never marry. It’s not the only thing he passed on to her, as Alexia is a rare species in the paranormal world, a Soulless. Being Soulless is exactly what it sounds like, Alexia has no soul but carries on through life using reasoned logic to get by.

At first I was also put off by the concept of soulless-ness (how horrible!), but I think there’s more to it than that, although Carriger hasn’t delved too far into it in this first book. Being soulless also has practical uses, as touching Alexia renders all paranormal creatures completely normal. So a vampire could be attacking her and all of a sudden discover that his fangs are gone and he is not as strong as he thought. Which occurs in the first scene of the book.

Throw in a rakishly handsome werewolf lord and some steampunk elements (as should be found in all Victorian-era novels worth their salt) and this book is rollicking! I finished it in a day and enjoyed every minute. Fun easy read and great for Halloween. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series, so this one comes recommended for light spooky reading.

The Quick, by Lauren Owen

The Aegolius rarely, if ever, permits visitors, and it is chiefly due to the strict enforcement of this rule that so little information can be gleaned about the club's doings - whatever these may be.

The Quick is also a gothic Victorian novel about vampires. And … that’s where the similarities end between it and Soulless. The Quick is anything but a quick read. It is long and the words are strung out like molasses. I saw that Lauren Owen is a literary academic and I truly appreciate the attention to detail that was put into this novel. It reads like a classic: the plot is meandering and the descriptions are wordy. It is also macabre and brilliant, and I was completely delighted that vampires describe humans as The Quick; it gave me shivers it was so perfect to me.

There is a payoff in the end. To finish this book is satisfying, and reminds me of nothing less than Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It is an investment book. If you have several long nights ready to dedicate to immersing yourself in gorgeous gothic words, set yourself in front of a roaring fire with a brandy and lose yourself to the vampyres.