cover image Heartless


Gail Carriger. Orbit, $7.99 mass market (362p) ISBN 978-0-316-12719-6

Carriger's fourth Parasol Protectorate adventure is filled with steampunk creations such as zombie porcupines and harmonic auditory resonance disruptors, but its primary focus is on character. To protect Lady Alexia Maccon%E2%80%94eight months pregnant and feeling like a "stuffed goose with bunions"%E2%80%94from threats to her possibly soul-stealing unborn child, her husband, the Alpha of the Woolsey werewolf pack, suggests that vampire Lord Akeldama, Alexia's dear friend, adopt the baby. Alexia and Lord Maccon move next door to Akeldama, building a bridge to secretly connect the households. Meanwhile, Alexia's clueless sister Felicity moves in; new werewolf Biffy, once Akeldama's prot%C3%A9g%C3%A9, embarrassingly experiences premature transfluctuation; and a ghost sends Alexia to unravel a plot against Queen Victoria. Carriger's writing remains crisp and witty, and the affectionate banter between Lord and Lady Maccon will please series fans distressed by their long separation in 2010's Blameless. (July)