When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances – names it the Spotted Crumpet and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea.
But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone’s secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?
So this came in the other day and once I finished The Philosopher Kings I thought that it would make for a light break before picking Knight’s Shadow back up again as generally speaking, Carriger’s books make for a light read.
Before I go any further, I want to make one thing clear: this may be a new series, but it isn’t really newbie friendly. At this point, Carriger’s world has become fully interconnected. This book references events from the Parasol Protectorate and characters from both that series and her young adult Etiquette and Espionage series. They are all one big series and while you certainly can pick this up as a newbie, you will be confused. As before, Carriger doesn’t take the time to truly explain the world that the books are set in. They feel more reminders for old readers than help for new. Case and point: it reminds you that Lord Akeldama is a Rove vampire and that Rue’s friend Prim’s mother is a Hive-bound queen. But it doesn’t explain the difference between the two or why the Queen can’t leave the building. It’s not vital, but you will feel perpetually lost. Really, if you’re planning on reading this, at least read Soulless so you can at least understand the world.
The story of Prudence is a perfectly pleasant romp of vampires, shifters and the importance of team. Prudence herself is much like Alexia and Sophronia – high spirits, intelligent and one of a mind to break Society rules when there is a need. If you’ve liked her other heroines, you’ll like her.
The problem I’m having is the style.
Carriger has one of the most unique voices that I can think of in fantasy at any age. And because it’s so unique – rather droll and so focused on manners at the height of the absurd situations, I’m finding it starting to wear thin. It’s like a joke that is super hilarious the first time you hear it, and then you hear it again and again and again and it gets a little less amusing, a little less fresh each time you hear it until you’re just like “oh.” You can only read so many absurd statements or see characters worried about being improperly dressed when their life appears to be on the line so many times before the novelty wears off. And I think I’ve just about reached my saturation point. Finishing School is wrapping up with its last book in November. I’m invested enough in that series to see it through the end, but will I pick up Imprudence?
I don’t want to be too hard on this book, because from a quality standpoint, it’s more or less on the same level as her other books. It’s just what worked before for me is now not working for me and it seems a bit unfair to blame the book for that.
Although I feel like I’m starting to be a bit of a broken record, my recommendations from previous Carriger reviews stand: fans who love her books will love this. Fans already over her won’t change their minds and newbies are still best off starting with Soulless and deciding what to read from there.
Verdict: A weak Borrow It. The novelty has worn thin, but it’s still a solid book.