Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Review: Prudence

New Gail Carriger book new Gail Carriger book new Gail Carriger book WOOOOOO!

So as you may have guessed, I was a bit excited at seeing 'Prudence', the new book (and new series) from Gail Carriger in my local bookstore. (I was even more excited that between the various discounts I got and coupons I had, I paid approximately eight dollars for it. What can I say, I'm thrifty to a fault.) This one jumps ahead some twenty-odd years and follows Rue, Alexia's shapestealing daughter, on her own series of adventures in the steampunk werewolf/vampire-founded British Empire.

And 99% of this is even better than the previous series. For one thing, we get out of Europe and see some of the consequences of Queen Victoria's use of supernaturals to ensure the perpetual dominion of Britain over the world. Rue travels to India, ostensibly in search of a new variety of tea leaf, only to get embroiled in a nasty supernatural war with a whole host of players, and questions that Rue's sheltered life of privilege never prepared her for. I'm not saying that this is all about revolution and a post-colonial examination of the inhumanity of the British Empire using literally inhuman creatures as a metaphor--not yet, at least. It's still the first book. But 'Prudence' takes the bold stand that maybe the British Empire wasn't an unalloyed good for the indigenous peoples of the Imperial territories (SARCASM ALERT!) which is more than the previous series did.

Plus there's some really cool world-building involving other supernatural species (I'd say spoilers, but when a lioness shows up within the first hundred pages, vanishes suddenly, and a mysterious woman walks out of the room it was in, what conclusions do you draw?) and as always, excellent and witty prose. Oh, and there is an adorable kitty and a charming working-class kid named Spoo who should get her own series of books about being a child laborer on a dirigible. These are also great things.

If I had one quibble, it would be that the central romantic relationship between Quesnel (a minor supporting character from the previous series, now all grown up) and Rue feels a bit like it's relying on inertia rather than chemistry--you recognize Character A, you recognize Character B, why not ship them? But the story doesn't sell me on it. Plus, after four solid books of bisexual subtext with Madame Lefoux, I'm ready for Carriger to quit beating around the bush and have an openly bi lead. I'm basically shipping Rukhmet for the rest of the series, is what I'm saying here.

That's just a quibble, though, with what was otherwise an excellent book in what I'm sure is going to be an excellent series. Huzzah for Gail Carriger!

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