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Early Review: Prudence by Gail Carriger (The Custard Protocol #1)

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Prudence by Gail Carriger // VBC ReviewPrudence (The Custard Protocol #1)
Gail Carriger
Published: March 17, 2015 (Orbit)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review Source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Jo

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

When I found out there was to be a spin-off/sequel series to Gail Carriger’s truly brilliant Parasol Protectorate series (start with Soulless), I’m not going to lie, there was arm flailing. Prudence, The Custard Protocol Book the First, takes place roughly twenty years later, and has the daughter of Lord and Lady Maccon, Prudence, at its helm.

Quite literally, in fact, as for much of the book we join Prudence, her best friend Primrose and a delightfully eclectic (and often eccentric) cast of characters aboard The Spotted Custard, her new dirigible. Gifted the craft by her adopted vampire father, Lord Akledama, Rue has been charged with flying to India in search of a new tea venture. But when you’re the world’s only known metanatural (able to ‘steal’ a supernatural’s abilities, rending them mortal and temporarily take on those immortal abilities herself), things rarely go smoothly. She quickly finds herself up to her (very stylishly attired) neck in supernatural politics, ones that seem decidedly more complex than tea (although not necessarily more urgent, it is tea after all).

I have to admit that Rue and I got off to a bit of a rocky start—more my fault than hers, mainly because I wanted her to be Alexia and she isn’t. She is more impulsive and less pragmatic than her mother. Whilst I loved seeing all my old favorites, it wasn’t until Rue left London behind and floated off on her adventure that I put all that behind me and embraced her as a main character. She’s witty, caring and capable. She certainly isn’t perfect, making mistakes along the way but she learns from those and blossoms in her responsibility as captain. I think Prudence falls in to the new adult category—there’s certainly a sense of coming of age in Rue’s journey.

But she doesn’t take this journey alone. There is a stellar cast of secondary characters, including twins Primrose and Percy (children of Ivy, Alexia’s hat-obsessed best friend) and Chief Engineer Quesnel Lefoux. Each has a distinct personality, bringing his or her own strengths and weakness to the adventure. I particularly enjoyed the friendship between Rue and Prim. There was plenty of sharp-tongued flirting between Rue and Quesnel. And while I don’t think Rue is naïve, I’m not sure she fully understands her, nor Quesnel’s, feelings—and I’m absolutely looking forward to watching her figure them out.

I’m beyond in love with the world Carriger has created and her imagination never ceases to amaze me. It’s exciting and colorful, filled with ingenious inventions and glorious attention to detail, especially concerning Victorian fashion and etiquette. There were moments in Prudence where I felt it tilted slightly away from endearingly whimsical towards silly (The Spotted Custard emitting farting noises for example), but these were few and far between. I particularly liked getting to experience the world as a variety of supernaturals thanks to Rue’s metanatural abilities, some familiar and some new.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, Prudence has a cracking plot. Well paced and with plenty of action, it soon had me swept along in local legends and Lord Akledama’s web of espionage. The combination of historical, steampunk and paranormal works brilliantly, particularly in this world where the Empire has embraced the latter.

Prudence is a wonderful beginning to this new chapter in Gail Carriger’s world and a roaringly fun read. I can’t wait to see where this series takes Rue. If, like me, you’re a fan of the Parasol Protectorate I think you’ll be very happy. Equally—while you may miss some of the nuances—I do think it’s possible to read this if you haven’t read the previous series.

Sexual content: kissing, references to sex

2 Responses to “Early Review: Prudence by Gail Carriger (The Custard Protocol #1)”

  1. Amy says:

    I’m so excited to read this! I didn’t realize how much I missed the world Gail Carriger created with the Parasol Protectorate until I read this review.

  2. Margaret says:

    I’m doing a re-read of Parasol Protectorate sometime soon. It sound like it might be a good idea to read Prudence first so feels like something new instead of an extension of one of the previous series.

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