The Custard Protocol #2
I’m a big fan of Gail Carriger’s work, that’s no secret. I thoroughly enjoy the alternate historical reality she has created and find her books easy yet often thought-provoking reads. The links between the Parasol Protectorate, Finishing School and Custard Protocol books are clever and nicely twisty, and I very much appreciated seeing characters who appeared as protagonists age and evolve as side characters in other work – the glimpses to old favourites at different stages of their lives gives this fangirl’s heart glee.
Imprudence picks up quite soon after the end of the first book of the series (Prudence – if you didn’t know, the book is about Prudence, mostly known as Rue, the now grown-up birth daughter of Alexia and Lord Maccon, heroes of the Parasol Protectorate series, partly raised by her adoptive father, the vampire Lord Akeldama). Rue is a preternatural, the only one of her kind, able to steal the immortality of any supernatural creature with a touch, and hold it until the “tether” snaps (usually with distance), and this has at times made her a target for those who fear her, or those who want to utilise her ability. But Rue has other things to worry about, for her father, the alpha werewolf, needs her help, and the journey she will take has more danger than she could have realised.
The cast of characters in this book is vivid – I adored learning tantalising tidbits about old favourite Akeldama’s past, and seeing the changes other Parasol Protectorate protagonists have gone through. Rue and her friends are also fun. I was worried that maybe Rue and her best friend Primrose might turn into a rerun of their mothers, but they have quite distinctive characters and perspectives on their world. I very much appreciated the way Carriger wrote Rue’s deliberate sexual awakening – the way the character is written is powerful and self-aware, while still being sometimes a bit silly as young people can be, which is something we don’t really see enough of. This characters was complemented by that of Prim, who is cut from quite a different cloth, and the werelioness Tasherit, whose immortality makes her somewhat unknowable, but whose catlike traits render her something different again (she’s fantastic). It was nice to see this balance of different women who work together to play on each others’ strengths and it’s one of my favourite things about all Carriger’s books, because she writes women well, and writes them OFTEN.
I have to be honest and say I haven’t engaged quite as much with this series as with earlier books, and I’m not too sure why. I adore the characters, and the comedy of manners style Carriger employs – I hesitate to say it but I wonder if perhaps it’s simply that my reading tastes have started to change. It’s certainly happened before, so it’s possible. Still, once I was immersed in Rue’s adventures, I read the book swiftly and didn’t get distracted, so I’m guessing there’s still hope for me yet!