My first impressions are here
I finished the book a week ago, and I have very mixed feelings about it. It is the type of quirky fantasy with a bit of romance that I should fall in love with. I didn't, and I feel uncomfortable about it, as it failed me even though it didn't owe me anything, but I am still annoyed.
First of all, the fact that the heroine is a brain twin of Amelia Peabody, and the hero reminds strongly of her Emerson, doesn't help. They are probably the homage, but I feel that they are clones, and I'd rather re-read “Crocodile on the Sandbank” by Elizabeth Peters in the fifth time. (you should, too, it's delightful).
Alexia and Lord Maccon work together as a romantic pair, but they felt to me kind of “meh”.
My major gripe is with the soul stuff. The book is called “Soulless”, and I kind of expected more exploration of the matter. What is the soul, what does it mean in that Universe? It is said that Alexia doesn't have a soul, which she was told at 6, and she read Greek philosophers to acquaint herself with the moral implications of that fact. But the thing is – it all falls empty, a tantalizing promise that never gets fulfilled. Alexia has a pronounced effect on supernatural beings, an effect that is attributed to her lack of soul. Except this is the only effect, and I reasonably suspect that either the soul here is something different from I am used to consider it, or the basic theories of her world are wrong, and Alexia does indeed have a soul, and her soulless effect is caused by something else. It might be explored further in the next books, but I was waiting for more soul stuff from the book that is called Soulless. After all, it would have been interesting whether good manners can be a person's moral compass. How love would look like without the soul in that world? What is the soul, anyway? Those are all questions I asked myself when I picked up the book, but I didn't find them – not even the questions themselves there.
Reading went much slower than I expected, and at the culmination I was frankly bored. Not a good sign.
What did I like? I liked the world, the atmosphere, the new and different take on vampires and werewolves, and their effect on human history and politics. I liked the scientific ideas of the supernatural. The world, of course, pretty much didn't exist beyond British Isles and North America, but that goes with the mores of the time, and a topic for the following books, anyway. I wrote previously that I was tired of vampires, and I still am, but I wasn't here. The ecology of supernatural beings among humans was very different and very interesting from what we are used to.
So, when all is said and done, my resume is that it is why it fails for me personally, I can recommend it for my friends, or for any lover of romance and Victorian fantasy. I won't guaranteed that you fall in love with it – I didn't, but it is a glimpse into a curious world. I will be checking out the second book as soon as I dog through my immediate to-read pile.