Prudence has all the humor, intrigue, and tea one expects from Gail Carriger. Also, there are crumpets, wonderful clothes, vampires, and werewolves. There are several read out loud to the nearest friend moments in the book; Carriger knows how to take the ridiculous and package it in beautifully matter-of-fact language, making it all the funnier. She also gently mocks the social niceties of the time, even as it is clear she regards them with great affection.
Prudence Akeldama is the only known meta-natural; she is someone who can temporarily take any supernatural person’s abilities away from them for her own use. This makes her feared and, in some quarters, hated. She is also the daughter of powerful, aristocratic, supernatural people, which makes her welcome in society. This mix has made her both confident and socially skilled, so she is ready to accept the job when she is asked by her father to head to India to find out about a new kind of tea. Along the way she has oblique and puzzling conversations with people that result in a tangle of misunderstanding and surprises that takes a considerable amount of tea and talk to begin to sort out. Many new discoveries are made.
Carriger describes steampunk India with flair. There are the crowds and color, new smells, and a steam train made to look like an elephant. Carriger knows how to include details make for a memorable, lively scene without stopping the book’s action for description.
Prudence opens The Custard Protocol series, moving to the generation after The Parasol Protectorate. Prudence is the daughter of Alexia and Conall Maccon and many of her companions are the children of the Maccon’s friends. This adds spice for those who have read the earlier books; there is the joy of recognizing familiar characters as well as knowing some things Prudence does not. However, reading the earlier books is certainly not a requirement. Prudence stands well on its own, leaving readers to have the pleasure of getting lost in a good book without the trouble of losing the plot.
As the first book in a series, Prudence ends on something of a cliffhanger. It is satisfactory in and of itself, but there are hints of a larger plot that will develop further in future books.
Prudence comes out March 17, 2015.
Orbit books offers an excerpt for your perusal if you still have not decided about the text. You might also want to stop by Gail Carriger’s site where she writes about writing, fashion, and steampunk among other things. Or follow @gailcarriger Twitter; that’s good, too.