I find this new steampunk series irresistible, and it’s not just because it has the word “custard” in the title. Although that definitely helps!
Gail Carriger’s new series, The Custard Protocol, begins with a book called Prudence. The protagonist is a young woman, and you’ll never guess what her name is! but she is called Rue by her friends and associates. You’ll find fantasy elements in Rue’s metanatural character, which means that she is able to take on the attributes of whatever fantastic creature is nearby, most often vampires and werewolves. You’ll find science fiction elements in Rue’s new dirigible machine, named the Spotted Custard and decorated with whimsical ladybug spots. Spotted Custard‘s maiden voyage is to India, and the journey becomes hectic as the crew stumbles into unexpected drama involving kidnapping and conspiracy.
The second book is called Imprudence, and no, the protagonist does not change her name to ImRue. The Spotted Custard is off to Egypt, Abyssinia, and Nubia this time, with hilarious and suspenseful results.
The dialogue is clever, always a selling point for me, and the story is colorful. Rue and her friends care about clothes, hats, and accessories a lot, and these details add a frilly element to their adventures. The action takes place in an alternate Victorian England, or perhaps more accurately, in the outposts of an alternate British Empire.
Those in the know also recommend the series that precedes this one, called the Parasol Protectorate, which includes five books and begins with Soulless. Had I but world enough and time… I would want to spend at least a few decades with Rue and her intrepid steampunk pals.