Alexia Tarabotti, now Lady Maccon and muhjah to the Queen, has a lot on her plate: apart from the army camping on her grounds and her husband Conall disappearing at weird hours of the day, there is also a curse affecting parts of London where all supernatural occurences just stop. Conall has to suddenly leave to go back to his old pack in Scotland. As Alexia’s investigations lead her in the same direction, she decides to follow him, though she didn’t plan on being accompanied by her sister Felicity, her best friend Ivy, the werewolf claviger Tunstell, her maid Angelique and the inventor Genevieve Lefoux who upgraded her parasol for her. But there they all are on the dirigible on the trail of mystery.
Changeless got rid of most of the stumbling stones the first novel had for me and I liked Alexia even more this time. I’d call that a full success.
Having already written a book usually helps with writing your second novel and Carriger proves that point. Much of the roughness from the first novel has disappeared (for example, not once did I feel that the language was inaccurate for the timeperiod, rather to the contrary. I especially enjoyed the science talk) and characters are more sharply drawn, adding a little more depth to them as well. Especially Ivy profits from this. Her character seems the most re(de)fined, actually adding a bit more ridicule, but somehow that pushes her out the other end at it fits her better. I am also starting to see why she and Alexia would be friends in the first place, though it still isn’t entirely clear to me.
I generally liked that Alexia spends more time with women in this one, although I would have hoped for a little more appreciation of Ivy and a little reconciliation with her sister on Alexia’s part. Though I did like Madam Lefoux a lot and I loved the way Alexia reacted to her, part naivité, part pragmatism.
What still isn’t Carriger’s main strength, is the plotting. It all needs massive infodumps that could have been included a little more naturally if the plot had progressed a little differently. But that is only a minor complaint. Especially since the plot led to an ending that did absolutely surprise me, if not to say shocked. I would have never expected the book to end in such a bad place for Alexia.
It’s a good thing that the next book is already out so that I can continue with her story presently. And that I can try and figure out whether Lyall and Biffy are really going to hit it off (my newest theory).