For those who are interested in seeing what books I’ve read this year (or any of the years I’ve posted such lists), you might have noticed that the works of New York Times Best Selling author Gail Carriger appear and reappear. I lucked into her books several years ago and was so delighted by the one I read that I found another, and another, until I had read them all, one by one. You will also notice I’ve re-read most of them at least once. I consider them like special treats, wonderfully rich, delicious cookies with no calories that I can binge on without guilt. When I’m down in the dumps, one of these books can perk me up something fierce. However, fair warning: They are the Lays Potato Chips of books — bet you can’t read just one!
Now, a little disambiguation is required at this point. Ms. Carriger is, happily, a prolific author, but some of her books are by “Gail Carriger” and others are by “G. L. Carriger.” This is an important distinction to note. The “authorbeast,” as she refers to herself, has done this on purpose, as a kind of “truth in advertising” thing to help out her readers. You can think of her works as being like a swimming pool. The “G.L.” books (the San Andreas Shifter series), are definitely at the deep end. While no less witty and fun, they are darker in tone, heavier in subject matter and quite exxxplicit (particularly M/M explicit). If this is out of your comfort zone, then stick with “Gail” in the YA end of the pool. You can have just as much fun without getting in over your head.
All of Ms. Carrigers books have several overarching themes — people coping as best they can with what life has handed them, found family, inclusivity, consensuality, friends sticking by each other and helping each other out, doing the right thing, and happy endings. All her books are liberally larded with witty dialog, snappy action sequences, contraptions and fabrications, a certain (delightfully) casual weirdness, and a large dollop of panache.
The first five of Gail Carriger’s books are the “Parasol Protectorate” series, categorized as “paranormal steampunk” (so you will know where to find them in bookstores). These include the books Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, and Timeless. (You can buy all five books as a Kindle Boxed Set on Amazon.) The books take place in the 1870’s during the reign of Queen Victoria, but in an England that has accepted vampires as the arbiters of both fashion and ton, and werewolves as defenders of the realm. (Werewolves tie their top hats on so that if they have to change into werewolf form, they won’t lose their hats. Nakedness is one thing, but a gentleman should never appear in public without a hat!) The books relate the adventures of Alexia Tarabotti, a “soulless.” (If her bare skin touches a werewolf’s or vampire’s bare skin, they become mortal for as long as she is touching them.) When we first meet her, Alexia, because of her unique ability, accidentally kills a vampire. Lord Conall Maccon, the head of the London pack of werewolves is sent to investigate the crime. Shenannigans ensue. In dirigibles. This series has three stand-alone “satellite” books that delve further into the lives of some of the secondary characters in this series: How to Marry a Werewolf, Romancing the Inventor, and Romancing the Werewolf. The short story, “The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t” is a prequel to this sequence.
Gail Carrigers next four books fall into the Finishing School series, which take place in the same setting as the first series, but earlier — in the 1850s. These include Etiquette and Espionage, Curtsies and Conspiracies, Waistcoats and Weaponry, and Manners and Mutiny. These books relate the adventures of Sophronia Temminnick, a young lady who is being sent away to finishing school. Sophronia is a bit of a tomboy and doesn’t see why that is a bad thing. She’s convinced she’s not going to like Miss Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, but then she discovers the school is located on a dirigible, one of the professors is a vampire, and the curriculum is somewhat out of the ordinary. This series has one “satellite” stand alone, Poison or Protect, which delves further into the life of one of the secondary characters and plays into the Custard Protocol series.
Gail Carriger’s next four books are the Custard Protocol series, which take place in the same setting as the first two series, but later — in the 1890’s. These include Prudence, Imprudence, Competence and Reticence. At the conclusion of the Parasol Protectorate series, Alexia has a child whom she names “Prudence.” The child is a “metanatural” which means if her bare skin touches the bare skin of a supernatural creature, she becomes that supernatural creature until either the sun rises or until a certain distance separates them. If she touches a werewolf, she transforms into a werewolf. If she touches a vampire, she transforms into a vampire. (When your blood papa is a werewolf and your adopted papa is a vampire, this can make for an interesting home life!) But Prudence Maccon Akeldama is all grown up (or so she thinks) and her adoptive papa has given her a dirigible of her very own (which she christens “The Spotted Custard”), and a mission.
Each of these series is stand-alone and can be read in any order. However, if you wish to read these books in chronological order, read the Finishing School series (and satellite books) first, then the Parasol Protectorate series (and satellite book), then the Custard Protocol series.
As for the deep end of the pool, more about the San Andreas Shifter books can be found here.
I know you can get all of Ms. Carriger’s books in Kindle format from Amazon, because that’s where I got mine. I think the main series’ books are available in dead tree editions, but there are some of her books/novellas which are not available in any format but digital. If .mobi is not your e-format of choice, you’ll need to check your chosen source for availability.