Author: Gail Carriger
Book: Prudence (The Custard Protocol #1)
Published: March 2015
Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is a socialite in the steampunk alternative universe of Victorian London. She is also something of a wellborn scamp. When she is given a dirigible as a surprise gift, she names it the Spotted Custard. She is then given a mission to pursue the perfect cup of tea. In India, she finds herself in the midst of a brewing crisis. Local dissidents have kidnapped the local army commander’s wife.
Rue is far from helpless, however. She is a metanatural, able to steal other supernatural creatures powers. Risking the loss of her bloomers when she changes shape, she must solve the mystery of the brigadier’s wife and prevent a war.
The Custard Protocol is set in the same universe as the Parasol Protectorate series. (It should be noted that the reviewer is has yet to read the Parasol Protectorate series.) Prudence is a mortal protagonist in a world dominated by various immortal creatures such as vampires and werewolves. She possesses one advantage from being related to such beings by birth. She has a rare “metanatural” power. She can steal the powers from an immortal. Of course she may have to sacrifice whatever she’s wearing if she takes the powers of a were-creature, leaving her embarrassingly exposed.
The first thing one must realize about this book is it is written “tongue-in-cheek.” The characters are stereotypical in their Victorian mannerisms. This leads to some amusing situations. The story is episodic instead of plotted. This weakens the story, but not terribly. The setup is long with the action taking place in the second half of the story. While not quite a page turner, the story is witty and fun to read.