The Custard Protocol: Book 1
Published: 16th March 2015
Published by: Orbit
After ‘The Parasol Protectorate’ comes ‘The Custard Protocol’. Twenty years after the events if Timeless, Prudence Alessandria Maccon Akaldama (Rue to her friends) is all grown up and making trouble, or at least a bit of an exhibition of herself. Ostensibly adopted and brought up by Lord Akaldama, Rue has happily bounced through life the child a vampire, a werewolf and a soulless. Able to render a supernatural mortal and take their souls, at least temporarily, her antics have started to scandalise London society.
After an incident involving snuff boxes, tea and split bloomers, Lord Akaldama asks her to go to India about some tea business. He provides her with an airship, which she promptly names ‘The Spotted Custard’ and has the balloon painted red with black spots. Gathering a crew quickly, including her friend Primrose, who could organise a tea party in a battle and whose mother is a hat obsessed vampire queen, Prim’s brother Percy – a navigational and scientific genius frightened of chilli – and Quesnel Lefoux, an engineer brought up by his ghostly grandmother, Rue heads off into the aether to India in search of tea.
Unfortunately things are not as simple as that. Encountering mysterious agents and strange vampire species, as well as a werelioness and weremonkeys, the party bumble in to an incipient war when a British brigadiers wife is reported missing. Rue sets out across the forests to rescue the lady, meet the weremonkeys and retrieve the tea.
Old and new characters make up the cast of this novel, continuing Gail Carriger’s steampunk Victorian world into the future. The stories from all three series – The Finishing School series, The Parasol Protectorate series and this new series – link into each other with references to the events and actions of characters in the earlier books, and the appearance of different characters. Two of them, Lady Kingair and Lord Akaldama, appear in all three series.
I found this book very funny, read it in a single seven hour sitting, and can’t wait for the next one. The writing and characters are engaging, the language is fluid and suits the content, and the plot is diverting and engrossing. I loved the cover as well.
The only problem I had was that it needs some editing, at least in the kindle edition; there was a few spelling and grammatical errors, and occasionally dialogue was missassigned. It’s stuff I would have thought an editor would have picked up on.
Other than that minor quibble, I found this to be a very enjoyable, funny novel.
Did I mention I loved the humour?