It was inevitable that I wasn’t going to like this one as much as the first, because I just have this thing about reading initial romances. It was enjoyable reading about Alexia and Lord Maccon’s married relationship here, but it wasn’t as purely *fun* as their courtship in book one. Also, the rest of the book was full of other stuff that fleshed out the world, intriguing new secondary characters, and a fun mystery, so I really don’t have anything to complain about*.
*Well, perhaps the ending. But not here. That’s for later. Scroll down. I probably go on about it quite a bit. Would also like to take a moment to note that this is the second time I’ve had to write this review. I stupidly wrote the original in my browser over at Goodreads, and of course it crashed before I could save it. That review was definitely better than this one, as these things go.
The inciting incident in Changeless is Queen Victoria calling the troops home from India (in this world, the fighting is mostly done by werewolves and the politics by vampires, which I think is a clever touch). And with them comes a plague of humanity — quite literally. One night, a huge swathe of London is struck by some sort of phenomenon rendering all the supernaturals mortal again (and exorcising all ghosts, permanently). Alexia and her werewolf husband are both caught up in the mystery, as it falls within Alexia’s purview as the muhjah on Queen Victoria’s Shadow Council, and Lord Maccon because whatever’s going on seems to involve his old pack back in Scotland.
I really liked the way Carriger is opening up Alexia’s world. I liked seeing more about ghosts and werewolves, loved following her to Scotland to meet Lord Maccon’s family. I also liked that we got to spend more time with secondary characters like Ivy and Tunstell, and new characters like Madame Lefoux, who shakes up Alexia quite nicely and in intriguing ways.
Lastly, I gather that the ending doesn’t work for a lot of people. In fact, I gather they hate it, but I didn’t. But it didn’t exactly sit right with me, either. I think it makes sense if you stretch really hard on Lord Maccon’s motives and backstory (gotta love a good fanwank), but how difficult would it have been to actually provide him with a motive within the text? I’m sure we’ll get one in the next book, but the last three pages of this book would have hit so much harder, and without a sense of lingering betrayal on the part of the reader, if she’d set it up better. As it is, his actions feel like character assassination. The Lord Maccon we know would never, etc, etc. I don’t believe he would never, but we haven’t been presented with any evidence previously to this that he could ever act like this, so. Nearly the same thing practically speaking. Anyway, it’s not a deal breaker for me, and I actually sort of liked the melancholy feel of the ending.
Also, who are we kidding? There’s no way things won’t eventually work out for the best. This isn’t that kind of series.