Gail Carriger's Soulless is a lighthearted romp through an alternate Victorian England. Alexia is a confirmed spinster at twenty six whose mother never even tried to marry her off, because her father is Italian and Alexia is not only dark but bookish. So she serves as a chaperon to her younger, blonder sisters, and amuses herself by reading and sparring with London's head werewolf. Did I mention the werewolves? And the vampires. We meet Alexia when she accidentally slays an attacking vampire while trying to sneak some sandwiches at a ball.
Carriger's real twist on the vampire/werewolf trend is the addition of the soulless category. Alexia's special snowflake power (a must for urban fantasy, it seems) is to neutralize the supernatural with her touch -- a vampire or werewolf in contact with her is transformed into a human. No fangs, no fur, no fun. Well, maybe just a little fun -- the (mostly predictable) romance is between Alexia and that head werewolf, who verbally spar while falling in love and mixing it up with various baddies.
I liked the idea of the soul as a measurable quality; I hope the future books look at this in more depth. People with lots of soul can become immortal (vampire, werewolf), but there is no way of knowing how much you have until you try. Except for Alexia, who knows exactly how much she has -- none. A few times she ascribes her common sense or lack of creativity to her soulless state, but it seems this is mostly a metaphor. On the other hand, this is a fantasy...
This was a fun read as it played off the Victorian times but kept Alexia true to the setting while still an active and interesting heroine. There is some gore and an icky automaton, but Alexia does her best to keep her eyes averted so it's not too graphic. B+