Soulless: The Manga: Volume Two
by Gail Carriger and RemCorsets and cute werewolves abound in the second graphic novel of the Soulless series. This time Alexia is adjusting to her new position as Lady Maccon when a regiment of werewolves camps out on her front lawn. They come with disturbing news of an affliction affecting the supernaturals, turning them mortal once again. This is bad news for vampires, werewolves and ghosts, and Alexia is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Alexia's happy-go-lucky friend Ivy has announced an engagement. The only problem is, it's to a man she clearly doesn't love as much as the poor, low-status Tunstell. We also meet the cross-dressing Madame Lefoux, an inventor with her own share of secrets. There's also an arrogant Major Channing, and some very Scottish werewolves led by a no-nonsense woman called Sidheag.
Alexia has the help of a nifty new parasol and some unusual gadgets to help her solve the mystery. The characters also take an eventful trip on a dirigible. These steam-age technologies make this episode more steampunk than horror. Even when characters are attacked or killed off, the graphic novel's humour and its quaintness make the story as sweet as a baby bunny wearing a hat. That's not to say that the headcount is very high.
Rem's artwork is very pretty, and quite traditionally manga-esque. The main drawback with this is that a few of the characters look indistinct apart from their hairdos, and in the men's case there isn't even hair to tell them apart. Everyone is basically template-beautiful.
I found this episode of the Soulless series quite enjoyable, but there's a lot of plot in it, and I had the feeling (having not yet read Changeless) that the story has been squeezed into fewer pages than it deserves. The pace is fast, yet not confusing. However, I wanted to spend longer with all of the characters, particularly Madame Lefoux and Sidheag. All of which makes me glad there are plenty of novels to dive into for more depth. As a graphic novel this is inevitably the bite-sized, simplified version, but it's so charming and cute that I don't think reading it first will spoil the novels, because it's full of the sort of characters that beg to be re-read.
16th June 2014
Review © Ros Jackson
Source: own copy