Of course, Victorian England being one of my favourite time periods, how could I not fall in love with Carriger’s stories. In making her world a Steampunk universe, Carriger is able to include more progressive ideas that better suit Alexia and Sophronia’s characters and their tendencies toward academia (gasp!) and tendency to create or be involved in mayhem.
Victorian England – Queen Victoria makes several appearances in the Parasol Protectorate books being magisterially approving of Alexia’s participation in the dominantly male world of her domain. She employs Alexia as mujah with the efficiency of a monarch accustomed to running a global empire and expecting results from those under her command. The strict societal structure of Victorian England lends itself well to the inclusion of the fantastical werewolves and vampires of Carriger’s imagination. The best thing about Carriger’s inclusion of these supernatural creatures is that they’re written without the usual cliches but are not so unique that they seem completely foreign. With all creatures of excess and negative soul interacting diplomatically, Carriger’s England is a believable, layered world that encourages the plotting and investigation necessary to the intricate plots of Alexia’s world.
Steampunk – Navigating the world of fighting werewolves and vampires requires some imagination and what better way to combat supernatural elements than to include eccentric scientific inventions. Madame Lafoux brings a rationally scientific element to the campaign to balance the powers of the English upper class and their supernatural counterparts. The Order of the Octopus satisfies the element of scientific invention one expects in a Steampunk world while the adaptation of the Templars’ role in this world brings in a religious element one would expect in such a morally superior society. Even if the superiority is only in the minds of those who wield those morals like weapons. My favorite inclusions are the dirigibles, the idea of ghosts used as political informants, and, of course, Alexia’s parasol. Blending fashion, invention, and practicality is a hallmark of the Steampunk world that Carriger navigates beautifully. Her description of these clever steamwork/clockwork contraptions never bogs the reader down in boring mechanics. There is the right amount of whimsy in each explanation without being overly scientific.