Author: Gail Carriger
Book: Competence (Custard Protocol #3)
Published: July 2018
Genre: Steam Punk
The crew of the Spotted Custard is at it again. Miss Primrose Tunstell begins her adventures in Competence by stealing helium to save her airship. Her scheme involves a lovesick werelioness and a fish tail. Once the crew fixes the leak, fills the helium bladders, and tops off the coal stocks, Prim receives a message about a novel kind of vampire in Peru. The journey that follows involves navigation errors and pirates. During the journey, she ponders some of the more serious questions in this alternative Victorian world. Can a perfect book club return a person’s soul? Can she get her brother, Percy, to stop wearing that ridiculous fez? Can the right amount of lard in a Christmas pudding save an entire race of vampires? The crew does a stint impersonating Spanish inquisitors, complete with idiotic outfits.
The third book of The Custard Protocol shifts attention from Captain Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) to her best friend, one Miss Primrose Tunstell, called Prim. As with the previous two books, Gail Carriger has written Competence in the same tongue-in-cheek manner. The stereotypical Victorian mannerisms are still amusing and will keep the reader entertained as the plot builds up steam. (Sorry about the pun.) Prim finds her love life stuck in a quandary: her latest engagement has been called off. She is sure that the one person she is attracted to is not acceptable to her mother’s Victorian sensibilities. Through it all, they must get from Singapore to Peru to save a rare species of Andean vampire.
The witty character development continues. The hazards of steam and airship travel are exciting. Navigational and atmospheric anonymities make this more than a simple mode of travel. Changing the point-of-view from Rue to Prim adds dimension to the overall story arch. I’m looking forward to the fourth book: Reticence.