From New York Times best-selling author Gail Carriger comes the delightful sequel to Prudence. Rue and the crew of the Spotted Custard return from India with revelations that shake the foundations of England's scientific community. Queen Victoria is not amused, the vampires are tetchy, and something is wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue's best friend, Primrose, keeps getting engaged to the most unacceptable military types. Rue has family problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue's beginning to suspect what they really are...is frightened.
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I loved the Parasol Protectorate and the Finishing School series. In both cases, the narrators Emily Gray and Moira Quirk respectively, brought the series to life. However, the choice of Ms. Quirk here, is a mistake. The Custard Protocol as read by Ms. Quirk, makes Prudence sound like Sephronia and the secondary characters we came to love under Ms. Gray's voice (Akeldama, Alexia, Lord Maccon, Floote, Biffy) completely unrecognizable for the devoted listener. In some cases, the pronunciations were so different (Rabiffano, BUR as "bur" not B-U-R) that it was beyond disconcerting. Akeldama sounded exactly like Professor Braithwaite. Some consistency at the very least would have been good. There was also little vocal differentiation between Rue and Primrose, so at times it wasn't possible to tell who was speaking by their voice. Unusual given Ms. Quick's deft vocal handing of Sephronia and her best friend Dimity. I would have had Ms. Gray continue the Alexia-based storyworld. While these things don't speak to the plot, the interfere with the ability to transport into the story, making the experience less satisfying at the outset. However, the problems with Imprudence went deeper than just the narration.
Unlike Sephronia, Prudence, or Rue, has little to recommend her that make us really care about her. While Imprudence was slightly better in this regard than the previous book Prudence, the plot was thin. The amount of time that Rue and Quesnel spent sexually exploring emphasized the YA nature of the series. While the Finishing School was YA also, the plots were more engaging, clever and intricate, the characters were uniformly much better developed. In Imprudence, many interesting angles were unexplored (i.e. the were-lion island, the Templars, Floote's life in Egypt, etc.)
I started it once and lost interest, but came back again due to my regard for the author. It was disappointing relative to the cleverness of previous books. My guess it that it's hard to satisfy readers/listeners who have expectations from previous works, but this was not up to previous standards. Without the significant backstory from the Protectorate books, this would have been an even thinner experience. Listen knowing these shortcomings and you will probably enjoy Gail Carriger's unique voice.
This is not a stand alone book, as it's set in the world developed by previous stories. I recommend starting with Prudence's Mother's story 'Soulless"' (Soul less) in the Parasol Protector series, of which there are 5 books. Then start off with this series, 'The Custard Protocol' (I'm still laughing at this name!) The Finishing School series is a stand alone and predates the beginning of Soulless. However, you don't have to listen to it first, but can start off with Soulless if you wish.
This story is quite witty, entertaining and surprising. I literally laughed out loud at times, while being moved almost to tears when the London Pack has a surprising change. In listening to this book I was so engaged in the story that I actually cleaned house while listening, just so I had a reason to put off my real work until later! LOL (I get bored when cleaning so I love listening to audiobooks as it makes the time fly by.)
I love Gail Carriger's writing and wit so much that I've attended one author signing at Powell's books and will be attending another next week. She creates strong female characters set in a steampunk world. All too often other authors only write where men must be alpha, which I get tired of. (I'm a natural pack leader myself) However, Gail's writing showcase's the way these female characters forge their way through the world, and in the process are quite entertaining. These are not women who are weak, or even looking for an alpha man, as they're quite capable of looking after themselves with the help of their friends. Each of the characters has their own strength, whether male or female.
When I learned of this new book in the series I couldn't wait. In fact, I counted the days until it was available and then stayed up till after midnight, just so I could purchase it right away on Audible.
This book isn't only entertaining for women either. My Sweetheart actually loves this series as much as I do! What a surprise! He's normally more into science fiction, mysteries and such, liking more mayhem and violence in his books than I do. But he equally likes Gail's writings and attended her signing event with me and will also be going to the next one.
Moira Quirk, as always, delightfully narrates in such a way that I hear the different personalities shining through. The voice for Prudence is especially entertaining, as it brings home the vibrant personality that Gail has created.