Series: The Custard Protocol #1
Published by Orbit Books on 19 March 2015
When Prudence “Rue” Alessandra Maccon Akeldama, our favourite metanatural, scores a dirigible from her beloved adopted vampire father, she and a motley crew head off to India to source the perfect blend of tea. Naturally she becomes embroiled in a conspiracy of epic proportions and just as naturally she manages to prevail against the odds.
It is hard to review this book without comparing Rue to her mother Alexia Maccon. They are both a quirk of nature and their very existence poses a threat to supernatural creatures. They are also fairly indomitable women who are used to getting their own way. Alexia seemed to have more compassion, intelligence and, dare I say it, a sense of humour than Rue who blithely barrelled her way through life.
The good bits
Carriger’s distinctive florid style is back in full force and there is a lot to savour. Thankfully the witty banter and absurd situations that I came to love in the Parasol Protectorate series feature strongly.
The not so good bits
The story is unevenly plotted with travel preparation and the journey taking up way more time than they should have. They provided opportunities for suitably diverting conversations but they were fairly pointless apart from giving us an opportunity to get to know the main characters. The Indian section was the most action packed and I suspect I would have enjoyed the book much more if Carriger had focussed on this. India is curiously missing Indian characters and it is a shame we only get the British point of view. I can’t help but feel that Carriger missed a golden opportunity to showcase a country with such a rich history as seen through the eyes of a fairly unconventional protagonist.
Rue, as the daughter of a soulless human and a werewolf, has the ability to temporarily steal supernatural capabilities. She regularly took advantage of this and I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for the hapless supernatural creatures who found themselves temporarily mortal. Rue’s arrogance meant she wasn’t that likeable. The way she bluffed her way through international politics without any real comprehension of what was going on was commendable but her bullying and disregard for others wore a little thin.
Ultimately this is a book that exudes bucket loads of style but is a bit low on substance. A fun romp to be sure if you don’t look too closely but Rue has a bit of work to do if she is going to fill her inestimable Mama’s shoes.