Book Review: Prudence by Gail Carriger

PrudencePrudence by Gail Carriger

Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk

Series: Book 1 of The Custard Protocol

Publisher: Orbit (March 17, 2015)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I didn’t expect to like this one so much. First of all, I haven’t read any of Gail Carriger’s other books save for Soulless which I found quite enjoyable, but ultimately the emphasis on Alexia and Maccon’s romance kept me from diving headfirst into the Parasol Protectorate. Then along came Prudence. Described as a new series featuring the adventures of Alexia’s daughter, this book sounded like a lot of fun. More importantly, it also looked different enough from the original series that I figured I might just give it a shot.

I’m so glad I did. Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama AKA “Rue” is definitely a force to be reckoned with! Like I said, I never got beyond the first book of the Parasol Protectorate series so this was my first introduction to this spirited young lady. I didn’t feel disadvantaged at all for not having read the original series; Carriger does a great job making sure that all her readers can hop aboard at this point and enjoy this book on an equal footing.

Witty, vivacious, and oh so much less prim and proper than her mother, I just couldn’t help but fall in love with Rue. She possesses an ability not unlike Alexia’s, being able to negate the effects of supernatural beings simply by making skin-to-skin contact with them, except she does this by temporarily stealing their powers. So for example, by touching a werewolf, she in turn becomes a werewolf, leaving her hapless victim mortal for the rest of the night or at least until Rue gets far enough away to snap the magical tether. Needless to say, high society has gotten quite used to the sight of Rue running around the city in wolf form wearing nothing but her bloomers, much to Alexia’s chagrin…which just goes to show how different Rue is from her mother.

Also, for much of Rue’s life she was raised away from her birth parents by her foster “second father”, the vampire Lord Akeldama. When trouble threatens to strike Dama’s tea interests in India, he tasks Rue with the mission to investigate, because as everyone knows, tea is SERIOUS BUSINESS. To help her complete her quest, Dama also gifts Rue with her very own dirigible, which our protagonist promptly dubs The Spotted Custard.

Oh God. Never have I wished this hard for illustrations in an adult novel. What I wouldn’t give to see a picture of Rue’s red-with-black-spotted dirigible, because Rue being Rue, of course the first thing she does is commission it to be painted like a gigantic ladybug. Oh, and due to some kink in its engineering, the ship also farts loudly upon liftoff.

Yeah, I just about fell out of my chair from laughing so hard.

Such preposterous, over-the-top situations are everywhere in this book, making this a very humorous read – another point Prudence has over Soulless, in my opinion. This fact makes the novel a regular comedy of errors, made even funnier by Rue’s traveling companions who are all delightful but just as hilariously incompetent at pulling off a mission of espionage. You have straight-laced Primrose who forces the entire expedition to depart early due to an unexpected fashion faux pas, the scholarly navigator Percy who fills up his stateroom with more books than the necessities for basic living, and the rakish Quesnel who is constantly distracting Rue with his good looks and casual flirtations. Can India survive the crew of The Spotted Custard? That’s the million dollar question indeed.

Another thing I really enjoyed is just the light smattering of romance, which in no way detracts from the main storyline. Something’s definitely brewing between Rue and Quesnel, but their relationship is secondary to the central plot which focuses on adventure. There’s no doubt that the exciting journey to India was what made this book such a joy to read, bolstered by Rue’s eccentric brand of diplomacy and the antics of her friends and crew.

I’m also happy that while many of the major characters of Parasol Protectorate are featured in this book, the author keeps their appearances limited. This is strictly Rue’s story, and I couldn’t be more pleased with that. Of course, if you’ve read the series featuring her parents you’ll have a better grasp on the lore and characters’ backgrounds, but I didn’t and I still had a blast. I actually liked Prudence a lot more than Soulless; after all, I didn’t get a jump on the rest of the books in Alexia’s series, but I’m very impatient now for the next book of Rue’s! I’m so glad that Carriger decided to focus on this character, and I can’t wait to follow Rue and her friends on their future adventures with The Spotted Custard.

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A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Orbit Books!

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22 Comments on “Book Review: Prudence by Gail Carriger

  1. You’re making me really curious! I was quite anxious because I sax a really mixed review about the novel saying that in the end even if it’s ok, the story is too much the same as always and it’s nice to see you didn’t really feel that. Now I want to try too!

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    • Well, I’ve only read book one of Parasol Protectorate so take my opinion with a grain of salt! But I did feel it was sufficiently different enough. Prudence is very different from Alexia, and this book is also much less focused on romance and more on adventure.

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  2. Oh, this is great- I was afraid I have to finish Parasol Protectorate first, since I also read only Soulless (and considering what Melliane wrote in her comment, maybe it’s better this way…?) 🙂
    Thanks for review,Mogsy!

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    • Nope, not necessary to read the PP series first. It would help, I think, because there are some references to the original series, but I honestly got by just fine with what info was given 🙂

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  3. This sounds like I need to read it! I confess I started Soulless several years ago and for some reason couldn’t get through it. So I’ve been a little leary of Carriger’s books since then. Maybe it’s time to try her again:-D

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    • Aye, I felt the same way. I did finish Soulless and I liked it, but deep down I knew it wasn’t my type of book, too focused on romance etc. (even though I hear the later books aren’t so much, with Alexia and Maccon married). I would definitely give Carriger another try.

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    • I know, the whole tea premise is so ridiculous and wonderful! I might give the Finishing School books a shot now, I kinda dismissed them after I didn’t fall head over heels in love with Soulless.

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  4. I love reading enthusiastic reviews such as this one, it reminds me why blogging is so much fun! It’s clear you enjoyed this book and now I want to read it! 🙂

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  5. Good to hear you enjoyed this. Wasn’t sure whether to give it a go or not. I read the first few of the Parasol Protectorate – I didn’t finish the series but I might do and then pick this up. I didn’t mind the cheesy romance too much LOL.
    Lynn 😀

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  6. Since I’m in the middle of Parasol Protectorate’s fourth book, this is great news indeed, because it promises to go on with many of the elements I’m enjoying in the PP series. And it also promises to be just as much fun!
    As far as the “mother” series is concerned, the romance element is quite subdued – I’d like to point that out for those who weren’t too enthusiastic about it in the first book: since I’m not all that fond of romance myself, I can tell you that it’s not at all cheesy and that whatever romantic elements are present in the stories are abundantly laced with humor and irony, thereby watering down any possibility of excessive… sweetness 🙂
    One thing is certain, however: if you want a fun ride (with or without a dirigible… 😀 ) Carriger is nothing short of perfect.

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  7. Glad this promises to be a fun read! I just recently read book 3 in the PP series when Alexia is running around pregnant with Prudence I suppose and there’s all this speculation about what the baby will be. This new series seems like a really creative way for Carriger to carry on in that same general world but not getting too tired. Great Review!

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  8. GAH I need this in my life! Everyone knows how much I love Lord Akeldama, and Rue sounds like a fantastic heroine. The farting dirigible? TOO GOOD! I love a good comedy of errors (and a comedy of manners, which it sounds like this satirizes a bit) so I am very excited for my copy to arrive! Soon, my precious…soon. 😉

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  9. Pingback: Heartless – Gail Carriger | Space and Sorcery

  10. Pingback: Book Review: Imprudence by Gail Carriger | The BiblioSanctum

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