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Book 11: Heartless ((Parasol Protectorate #4).
Author: Gail Carriger, 2011.
Genre: Historical Urban Fantasy. Paranormal Romance. Alternative History. Steampunk.
Other Details: Paperback. 311 pages.

In the fourth in this series Lady Alexia Maccon is tasked with investigating a death threat against the Queen made by an insane ghost. Despite being eight months pregnant and having to deal with zombie porcupines, a sister who has joined the suffragette movement, her lusty werewolf husband and the antics of various eccentric friends, Alexia and her trusty parasol head once more into the fray to sort out threats against Queen and country.

This proved another delightful romp in Carriger's alternative Victorian England with ghosts, vampires, werewolves and the trappings of steampunk. The humour is often based on a comedic view of Victorian sensibilities and I feel that Carriger excels at this combination of wit and satire without it becoming too slapstick. The plot was fast-moving with plenty of interesting twists.

Book 12: The Mechanical Messiah and Other Marvels of the Modern Age (Japanese Devil Fish Girl #2).
Author: Robert Rankin, 2011
Genre: Comedy-Fantasy. Steampunk. Alternative History. Science Fiction.
Other Details: Hardback. 488 pages.

This is set in the same alternative universe as The Japanese Devil Fish Girl and Other Unnatural Attractions though introduces a new set of protagonists including consulting detective Cameron Bell, said to be the real inspiration for Sherlock Holmes though in appearance he resembles Charles Dicken's Mr. Pickwick; Colonel Katterfelto, who wishes to build a Mechanical Messiah; and Alice Lovell, a music hall performer who in her childhood had a series of adventures in Wonderland. Darwin the monkey butler makes a return appearance from the first novel.

It is hard to say much about the plot as it is quite chaotic though does feature a sinister series of murders, a trip to Venus, good vs evil, religion and magic. There is a cameo from Aleister Crowley, which did set off my trusty timey-whimey detector though I had to remind myself that Rankin quite deliberately inserts anachronisms into his writing.

While I loved The Japanese Devil Fish Girl, this didn't impress me as much. At times I found its humour rather forced and the plot became a little too silly. However, I still plan to read the next in the series as it is still quite a fun read.


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