Reviewing Gail Carriger’s Prudence, a comedic steampunk adventure
Gail Carriger’s newest novel, Prudence, is the first in a new series that is one part steampunk, one part fantasy, and eight parts comedy. It’s easy to see why Carriger cites P.G. Wodehouse as a major influence, as she flawlessly captures his style of charm, cheer, and whimsical irreverence, and adds her own twist with paranormal fantasy, wordplay, and tea adoration. She also includes a nod to Dickens with memorable supporting character names such as Brigadier Featherstonehaugh and Lieutenant Broadwattle.
Prudence takes place in the same universe as her two previous series- an alternate, steampunk version of Victorian England where “supernaturals” (werewolves, vampires, and ghosts) are accepted members of high society. The four main characters of the story, Lady Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama, Honourable Miss Primrose Tunstell, Professor Percival Tunstell, and Mister Quesnel Lefoux, are the next generation of adventurers, the offspring of the characters featured in Carriger’s The Parasol Protectorate series. The story centers around the Rue (Prudence) captaining an airship (or dirigible, for those who enjoy steampunk lingo) and heading to India on a mission to obtain some extremely important tea plants. But of course the plot thickens with stolen parasols, political intrigue, and other chicanery.
Rest assured, readers new to this universe will easily enjoy this novel as a standalone read. However, those who find themselves struggling with the occasional unanswered question should look to her previous series for answers. But true satisfaction lies with those of us who have already read the earlier novels and are longing for updates on some of our favorite characters, who pop up with gratifying frequency throughout the novel in minor roles.
This novel is perfect for anyone who enjoys adventure, wit, and humor served with a side of light-hearted silliness. This novel will thoroughly appeal to adults and teens alike.