Synopsis (taken from GoodReads.com) **SPOILERS AHOY!**
**This is the last in the Parasol Protectorate series - this synopsis WILL contain spoilers for earlier books in the series - if you want to read a review of an earlier book in the series instead, mine are here: Soulless (Book 1);Changeless (Book 2); Blameless (Book 3); Heartless (Book 4)**
Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire's second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell's acting troupe's latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a damper on Alexia's enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.
Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?
Review *I haven't included any spoilers for this book but this is the fifth and final instalment in a series so there WILL be some for earlier books - sorry!*
I've been staring at a blinking cursor for quite some time now (over the course of many evenings) trying to work out how to write a review to this that isn't a re-hashing of everything I've already said about the earlier instalments, which was when it occurred to me that, as much as I've enjoyed it, I'm actually kind of glad that this is the last. The series manages to end on a high note, before the style and structure of the stories that we've come to know and love became too familiar. I don't think that there's much more that an author can hope for when tying up the loose ends for the characters readers have come to love and I do hate it when a series goes on so long that I've lost all interest in it by the time it comes to a close.
On their final outing, Alexia and Lord Maccon head to Egypt to face down the God-Breaker Plague, with Ivy's rag-taggle theatre troop in tow. The complete change of scenery definitely helps the story. The unusual domestic arrangements necessitated by the events of Blameless and Heartless didn't work overly well for me. Don't get me wrong, the more Lord Akeldama there is in my world, the better but the adoptive parent role was one that I never quite got on board with. The Egypt Alexia visits is exotic and has a hint of lingering mystery with ancient relics and secret organisations lurking around and a hive of vampires that has been around since the Ancient Egyptians were in their heyday. There are actually some interesting points about how immortality when it involves living for that long might not be all its cracked up to be and it's the first time I've ever seen that kind of idea bandied about. Good stuff.
Alexia and Lord Maccon are as rambunctious a couple as ever. I've actually seen some criticisms of the way the couple interact as unrealistic and bordering on disrespectful. However, Boyfriend and I are bickerers so to me, it's a perfectly acceptable way to conduct a relationship! The rest of the characters fit in around them and balance out the dynamics nicely. I'm still not convinced by Ivy but I did like her more and I still love Genevieve. So there are quite a few things that remain that are comfortably familiar.
Happily, there are some elements of the story that still take place back in England, which rounds everything off nicely. Secrets out and characters reveal themselves (both intentionally and unintentionally) to be more than everyone suspected (me included!). In particular, there's a fabulous budding romance between two of the minor characters that is just adorable. It's largely incidental to the story but I thought that it said a lot about how sensitive the writing of the close to the series is. Having characters developing throughout a final instalment is tricky when you have four books' worth of loose ends to tie up. It doesn't feel over-worked or stilted, though, and it does stop the story being burdened by that awful feeling final books sometimes have. You know, where the plot isn't really a plot at all and more just a means of manipulating characters into a happy ending. This ending definitely wasn't what I was expecting but I feel mostly positive about it. I don't think I ever would have been completely happy so 'mostly positive' is fine by me.
I'm so pleased that this was a strong contribution to the series and an ending I could love! Now I can look forward to Carriger's next series! Roll on February 2013...
Overall: If you've liked the series so far, you'll like this one. That's pretty much all there is to it!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Date finished: 2 April 2012 Format: Paperback Source: Bought Genre: Steampunk; Urban fantasy Published: by Orbit Books in March 2012