Prudence (The Custard Protocol No.1) – Gail Carriger
As the daughter of a vampire, a werewolf and a preternatural, Lady Prudence Akeldama – better known as Rue – is not quite like other girls. For instance, when she touches a supernatural creature she can steal their shape, which is tremendously useful for fleeing an awkward party or winning an argument. When her adoptive father Lord Akeldama invites her into a secret tea scheme, Rue leaps at the chance. Not only does she get the very latest in dirigible technology, she can float off to India to try her hand at a little espionage and bring her friends along for the ride. Things do not go to plan. From an encounter with a parasol-thieving lioness to becoming accidentally embroiled in a shapeshifter uprising, Rue is in well over her head. On the bright side, she’s learning how to really work a tail.
Do not come into this book expecting it to make sense. Though this is the first book in the series, it’s really the next installment in Carriger’s earlier Parasol Protectorate series (which begins with Soulless) and relies upon some knowledge of those characters. It’s also completely ridiculous, sometimes in a good way – Carriger has a knack for sparkling one-liners – and sometimes just frustrating. Indian culture and religion are treated with the same flippancy as everything else, but it comes across as disrespectful rather than playful. I found the beginning a bit slow and the ending was a mess. Still, if you enjoy comic steampunk, you may want to follow up with The Custard Protocol No.2, Imprudence, slated for release in mid 2016.