Title: Prudence (The Custard Protocol #1)
Author: Gail Carriger
Length: 359 pages
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From: Oshkosh Public Library
Plot Basics: Prudence is a metanatural, or a shape stealer. She is given a dirigible and promptly rallies her friends and sets of to India for an adventure, only to end up on a completely different one.
Banter Points: Prudence — Rue — is destined for greatness. I mean, she sort of has to be, given her heritage and parentage. Her biological parents (Lord and Lady Maccon) may have felt that allowing Lord Akledama to raise Rue helped the vampires accept her, but it mainly created a character that should exceed the boundaries of propriety. Thankfully, Rue’s constant companion Primrose Tunstell, is blessed with an understanding of manners, propriety, and a mother who sets the fashion world on fire with her hats (Yes, this is Ivy’s daughter.)
For Rue’s first adventure on her dirigible, The Spotted Custard, Rue is an able captain and well-suited to running a ship. Honestly, the whole thing pulls together many elements that I really like from Carriger’s novels — women who are in charge, men who admire them, sassy conversations, and devices galore.
Rue and Prim do underestimate their parents, in the typical fashion of the next generation who only see parents as stiff and nonconforming. Readers of The Parasol Protectorate series or the Finishing School series will quickly realize that Rue is underestimating the sort of trouble her parents (or her companions’ parents) could have gotten into. It promises of great things to come in the series.
Bummer Points: And that’s the problem. It’s the promise of great things, but this novel actually fell flat. Rue has a grand adventure in India, but the story threads are so elusive, tangled, and mysterious that it actually takes the story’s ending to sort them out, with limited guessing ability. The ending felt like it came out of left field.
Some series also suffer from character bloat after several installments. This series starts with it. Due to the continuation of an existing world, almost every character has a past history previously established in another series. It was fun to see how various people have grown or changed, and their interactions with the new set of characters, but it also builds expectations into the type of character they will be. For example, Prim to Ivy. Prim is the very type of person Ivy was only able to be after her change into Queen Vampire. Is this really who Prim is? Or just a new version of Ivy? How does Rue counterbalance that? There are some hints in the novel, but there is a lot to figure out.
Stacie’s Recommendation: A disappointing start to this series. You are better off picking up either The Parasol Protectorate series or the Finishing School series instead, and wait to see if this one picks up.