Series: The Custard Protocol #1
Published by Hachette Audio, Orbit Books on March 17, 2015
Genres: Adult SFF, Alternate History, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy
Length: 12 hours 40 minutes
Narrator: Moira Quirk
*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.
From New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger comes a new novel in the world of the Parasol Protectorate starring Prudence, the daughter of Alexia Tarabotti.
When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances - names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier's wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone's secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?
Prudence is the first book in the Custard Protocol series which is a spin off from Gail Carriger’s marvelously fun Parasol Protectorate series. Thankfully, I promise you that you don’t need to have read her original series to read this one. While there is some character crossover, any reader should be comfortable jumping right into this steampunk Victorian alternate history world with Prudence.
Characters to love!
The main cast of characters consists of four people who really balance each other out. You have one that is full of zest and brash behavior, another who conforms to society’s rules but still knows when and how to break them and hearts, a bookish nerdy sort and then a rake (flirt) – but then if I’m really being honest all four of these people are rather flirtatious even when you don’t think they mean to be. Which in my mind just made everything all the more fun! For those of you curious about the characters and whether you can expect to see some of the original characters from the Parasol Protectorate here is a little character dossier for you of the major players.
– Lady Prudence Alkessandra Maccon Akeldama aka Rue – is the daughter of Alexia (souless / preternatural) and Lord Maccon(werewolf) the main characters from the Parasol Protectorate, and the adopted daughter of Lord Akeldama (vampire). She loves to act and can throw on a new act at the drop of a hat. She was such a treat to read.
– Honourable Miss Primrose Tunstell aka Prim – daughter of Ivy Tunstell (vampire Queen) but she is not a vampire herself. Twin sister to Percy, best friend to Rue, and no man seems to be about to resist her charms. Can you imagine growing up with a vampire queen for a mother? And one who has terrible tastes in hats and used to work for an acting troupe? Its amazing Prim turned out as balanced as she did.
– Professor Percy Tunstell – twin brother to Prim, scholar, researcher total bookworm and seemingly oblivious to the ladies tho they all seem to love him. Becomes the navigator aboard Rue’s dirigible The Spotted Custard. I have to admit I’ve got a soft spot for him because hey he’s the bookish scholarly sort and is always slightly disheveled. What woman wouldn’t swoon for him?
– Quesnel Lefoux – son of the inventor Madame Lefoux (yes that cross dressing Madame from the Parasol Protectorate), he is now all grown up and is an inventor / engineer himself and agrees to be the chief engineer aboard The Spotted Custard. An outrageous flirt and ladies man who is constantly making eyes at Rue – she doesn’t know whether he’s serious or not but I have an inkling he is.
– token appearances are made from Lady Alexia, Lord Maccon, Lord Akeldama, Mr. Rabiffano aka Biffy, and Professor Lyle.
Oodles of silly fun
Gail Carriger really knows how to write a fun filled romp of a book. Rue and her friends are technically adults but still young enough to have quite a bit of naive behavior between the lot of them. It of course usually leads to comical situations and enjoyment for readers. Rue and Prim are such an excellently balanced friendship and I really appreciated that their friendship was such a big part of this book because if there is one thing missing in many of the urban fantasies that I’ve read in the past, it is healthy female friendships. Having such wonderfully developed supporting characters made this book so much stronger then Carriger’s first few books (not that those weren’t great as well – and I did notice the supporting cast got stronger through each next novel). She has honed her art of fully fleshing out supporting characters, making then just as interesting and real as the main character. I’ve enjoyed all of her books thus far but Prudence is fabulous in that it gave me the best of both worlds in a way. The adult aspect of the Parasol Protectorate and more of the slap dash crazy adventure from The Finishing School books. I of course recommend all of the books because they were all enjoyable.
Comedy of errors and etiquette
In true form to her previous books you are in store for plenty of chuckles. I loved all of the characters and crazy antics they got up to. They set out upon their adventure to India on a mission for tea in a farting dirigible painted as a lady bug, yes you read me right, I said farting – but they get wrapped up in a mystery of missing taxes, a kidnapped Englishwoman and a war between supernatural races. With all of that there was still room for even more hijinx with just the right dash of romance. Not an adventure any steampunk fan will want to miss!
Thoughts on the audio narration
I read and listened to Prudence in tandem and find it was such a great way to experience it. Prudence was narrated by Moira Quirk who was also the narrator of Gail Carriger’s Finishing School trilogy, while Emily Gray was the narrator of the Parasol Protectorate series. Moira is an excellent narrator and she did a fabulous job with the voice acting and accents of the various characters. She’s able to put so much spunk into them that I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching it all play out in my head instead of listening. As there were some reappearing characters from the Parasol Protectorate series, audio fans of that series might be a little sad that the voices for the character from Parasol Protectorate compared to The Custard Protocol are of course not the same as they have different narrators. At first I was a little sad at the differences but Moira is such a great narrator that I ultimately didn’t mind and this is after all a new series featuring new characters and set 20 years later. The crossover characters from Parasol Protectorate barely have any on air time anyway. I think this world and characters Gail Carriger has created is a perfect fit for audio, mostly because the comedy factor comes through so perfectly in a way that can’t always be achieved on paper. It would definitely be a great place to start for someone new to audio listening.