Book three of Carriger’s Custard Protocol series does not disappoint. I know that this author is much discussed in the CBRosphere, so no doubt some of you are already reading this or have it waiting in the wings. For those of you who have not discovered her books yet, immediately begin with these. I read my first of her books during CBR3 and described them as “If Jane Austen lived in Victorian England and was getting properly shagged on a regular basis, this is what she would have written.” I stand by that but should probably amend it to “If Jane Austen lived in Victorian England next door to a shape shifter and was getting properly shagged on a regular basis, this is what she would have written.” If that appeals, go off and read The Parasol Protectorate series and do not read this review any further as it is slightly spoilery.
What Carriger began with the Parasol Protectorate series, carries on with the offspring of Alexia Tarabotti and Lord Maccon, Prudence. As Captain of the Spotted Custard dirigible, she steers her little on board family across the aetheorosphere in search of adventure. Her ship is kept afloat by a dashing French engineer, a socially awkward scientist and an extremely competent and stylish purser. Round that out with a sexy shapeshifter, a ghost butler, a mysterious drifter and an imprisoned soulless Italian and you have quite the crew.
This third installment in The Custard Protocol series finds the Spotted Custard refueling in between adventures. The focus here is on the Tunstell twins, Primrose and Percival, which was interesting. Both are prickly, adorably clueless and generally a lot of fun to spend time with. Struggling with her attraction to the werecat, Tasherit, Primrose throws herself into her onboard ship duties and attempts to find distraction in their latest adventure. Spurred on by a coded message from Prudence’s mother, the crew find themselves on a very delicate and dangerous rescue mission in the Andes. Will they run out of fuel? Can they navigate an uncharted part of the aetherosphere? Are there enough pastries and cream for tea? Why on earth is Percy wearing a rather questionable fez? These are just some of the crises the intrepid crew must navigate.
Carriger has created a paranormal steampunk paradise full of natural, supernatural and metanatural characters who always have time for a proper tea and accessorize with a purpose even under the most dangerous and extenuating of circumstances. They are witty, sassy and fiercely protective of one another. I admire Carriger’s ability to write such diverse characters so naturally. They are who they are and not much fuss is made about it which is refreshing. I am always a little bit sad when I finish one of these books. I try to read them slowly, but it is impossible.