She inspired, at even the best balls, a sensation of immanent dread. It was one of the reasons she was always at the top of all invitation lists. Dread had such an agreeable effect on on society’s upper crust.

I’ll admit, I’m not up-to-date with Gail Carriger’s books, but Prudence is the first book in the Custard Protocol series, and whilst there are characters from the Parasol Protectorate series, it’s not the end of the world if you haven’t read everything. Rue’s very existence might be a bit of a spoiler, so stop reading now if you want to keep everything unsullied!

Prudence is a bit slow to get into, mostly because it is introducing a new set of characters and it takes a while to establish the reasoning behind the dirigible travels, which are the focus of this series. Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama is the daughter of Soulless Alexia Maccon (nee Tarabotti) and Alpha werewolf Lord Maccon, who has been raised under the care of vampire Lord Akeldama. With that kind of heritage, she’s hardly expected to be normal, in fact she’s unique. Unlike her mother’s powers, when Rue touches a supernatural she absorbs their powers, leaving them temporarily mortal.

Vampires were like Brussels sprouts – not for everyone and impossible to improve upon with sauce.

When Lord Akeldama need a new variety of tea securing, he sends Rue off to India to represent him in the dirigible, named The Spotted Custard, he had made especially for her. It’s painted a little like a ladybird and not very inconspicuous, the perfect thing for a secret mission! What better disguise than frippery. Of course she needs a crew, taking her best friend Primrose, who will make sure everyone has their tea and cake needs met, and a couple of bothersome young men she could do without, but her father thinks otherwise.

Rue had an abhorrence of pigeons. Some childhood encounter involving a stolen sausage roll was to blame.

Gail’s characters are so much fun that I didn’t mind so much the slow start. There’s plenty of descriptions of clothing and ridiculous hats, so if you’re more after the adventure, please stick with it. Once you get past the introductions it’s great and the second book falls straight into the story (more on that nearer publication date).

Rue and Primrose are a bit naïve and take a while to warm too. There’s a dash of sibling rivalry and some teasing morphing into flirting. Taking Victorian ladies to India could be problematic, but I think the book does manage to touch on the forceful nature of the British Empire and how it definitely wasn’t as welcome as some of society might have thought it.

Progressive is not only what England is. It is what we do unto others.

Oh yeah, and that ladybird has a Gatling gun…

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Book Source: Purchased