Literary Review: Heartless by Gail Carriger

Title: Heartless
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Book Four
Format: Paperback

So this is it, the fourth book in the series… finally. Originally I was going to wait until I was able to get the audiobook for the final two books of this series… but considering when my overseas trip popped up I thought it best to just purchase the series (seeing as that I wold most likely read the series at another time again) and I would find time to read the final two books either on the flights or while galvating through the streets.

First thing’s first… in this fourth book in the series we are brought into a conundrum of sorts whereas the little “infant-inconvenience” is furthering inconveniencing her parents by being a prime target of murder/assassinations by the vampire hive in residence (though they would never formally admit that).

So how to rectify that particular situation? Professor Lyall once again proves his meddle by providing the most elegant solution at the moment: Have Alexia’s closest vampire friend Lord Akledama adopt the little “infant-inconvenience” while in the meantime Lord and Lady Maccon would take of residence in the townhouse next door for appearances.

Ok, they will take up residence next door for appearance and name only… in fact they will reside in Lord Akledama’s second-best closet within his own townhouse. Say what? Needless to say, Alexia was not pleased that the three men most important to her and her child’s wellbeing went behind her back and planned her situation for her. But what can she do?

Being eight months along in her pregnancy hasn’t stopped her from continuing on her escapades through the streets of London going so far as to call upon the aid of one Ivy Hisselpenny now Ivy Tunstell who is also expecting.

But why? In this case, a ghost appeared in the presense of one Lord and Lady Maccon to warn her of a plot to assassinate the queen. Which is where a lot of the plot revolves around.

We are led to believe that this plot to kill the queen ties in with a previous plot to assassinate the queen some twenty / thirty years prior (the actual number escapes me). And as thus Alexia finds herself drawn to find ties that the would be assassin of yesteryear has once again come up to scratch.

Well… after a bit of running around and digging up over materials and references she finds that the original plot to kill the Queen of England was all a ruse that was never meant to see to its conclusion. In fact it was a ruse concocted as a diversion for its more intimate – if not selfish – means.

This book really takes several supporting or barely mentioned characters more into the forefront, like Professor Lyall, whose stance as the ultimate and perfect Beta is scrutinized under the microscope. For it is those same qualities that we have come to love and adore of Professor Lyall that has every ability to lead him down darker paths when pushed too far. In fact we learn a lot more about Professor Lyall than we have been able to in past novels in the series, which in hindsight appears to be a sign of what is to come in the final book in the series.

We learn a bit about Professor Lyall and his past, not only pre-Lord Maccon but also touches upon his love life… particularly with Sandy. Lord Akeldama touches a little about Professor Lyall’s love life or lack thereof one earlier in the novel but one wouldn’t understand the greater circumstances until later on, and the results are rather revealing – to say the least.

Another originally passing character slowly gaining steam? Biffy, Lord Akeldama’s ex-droney-poo. He appears to continue having trouble with his werewolf transformation and continues to fight and struggle against it. Over the course of the book, Lord Maccon takes it upon himself to help Biffy along personally before they lose Biffy entirely to being a stray werewolf.

One thing I noticed in this fourth book that I haven’t noticed in previous books is how there are a lot of hints and clues to potential stories throughout the series that one wouldn’t have recognized at first reading. That is where the magic lies, to be able to write stories that for all intents and purposes can standalone but they are really part of the larger whole.

In fact I would go so far as to say that it is almost unnecessary to have read the previous book of the series at this point, but it wouldn’t hurt. Heartless is probably the first of the series that I truly felt could standalone and could be enjoyed on its own two feet… or four as the case may be here.

What this particular book does is bring the reader back to the magic that was the first book. Sure Lord and Lady Maccon were not necessarily together in the first book like they were in the fourth book, but at the same time there wasn’t a sense of predictability like in the previous novels. I wasn’t exactly able to discern what was going on entirely and as thus was pleasantly surprised as the storyline unfolded bit by bit. At the same time I almost wanted to kick myself too because I felt like I should have seen it coming… but that was the magic of the first book as well.

Granted how everything wraps up at the end too was a bit too cleancut as well… but what can you do?

In the end this is probably one of my favorites of the series up to this point. So it’ll be interesting to see what would happen from here. Many thanks to Gail Carriger for linking to this review.

If you’re curious, this is the third in the five book series:
Book 1: Soulless
Book 2: Changeless
Book 3: Blameless
– Book 4: Heartless
Book 5: Timeless