Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1 by Gail Carriger
Series: The Parasol Protectorate Manga #1
Published on: March 1, 2012
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Werewolves
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The life of a spinster in Victorian London isn't an easy one on the best of days, but such a life becomes infinitely more complicated when said spinster is "soulless" - a preternatural bridging the gap between the natural and supernatural worlds. Miss Alexia Tarabotti has this unique distinction, and when she is assailed at a formal gathering by a rove vampire, an encounter that results in the death of the half-starved creature, her circumstances become exponentially more complicated indeed! Now caught up in an intrigue with life or death stakes, Alexia must rely on all her talents to outmatch the forces conspiring against her, but it may be the man who has caught her eye - Lord Conall Maccon - and their budding flirtation that truly drives her to her wit's end!
Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1 brilliantly – ahem – condenses all that I thought I knew and thought I loved about Soulless. What’s more interesting, from my viewpoint, is how it would have appealed if I had not already indulged its blueprint. Could one have come in cold?
I lean towards yes, even, eager to stray into the territory of Soulless makes a better manga series than it does a book…but that might be too far. The more elaborate speculation about the nature of souls, if I remember correctly, has been sort of left out of this much more dynamic version. Everything that made Soulless such an all-over-the-place read – werewolves in steampunk in 19th century London, Jane Austen romance in League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen spy thriller, pretty dresses and hats in vampires – comes together and contrasts more sharply.
I may be a little biased due to what they call in anime and manga circles as fanservice, which in Alexia’s case is in high supply. That is not to appear base or anything. Just attempting to call it like I see it. One of the other things I feel guilty about when it comes to the manga v. book dichotomy is the quickness of the read. Each page here has a lot to sort of gawk at and linger on but the plot, even if one thought they already knew it, pulls one along disappointingly to the end.
There is a wish that they might have went so far as to reverse the manga so that it might read right to left like its ilk, thus making it a more alien and, therefore, more slow read, in which the details would have more time to sink in. Another thing you have to love about the manga is the amount of funny faces that Lord Maccon and Alexia show in relation to each other’s behavior and those of others. The embarrassment just comes home more in that very simple balling up of the eyes and flat-line of a mouth.
I hope that Vol. 2 plays up a bit more of the decorative clothing, especially hats, because I do remember that being a more of a big deal than it is made of here. Mostly if one already enjoys even a page of any Soulless novel this warrants a gawk. You will not be disappointed. For those who have not glimpsed a page of Soulless or its sisters, I would recommend the manga instead of the book because not only will be a change of pace plotwise but it must be a change of pace mediumwise.
How wacky is it that this became a manga? Anyways, quite thrilling.
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