PRUDENCE by Gail Carriger
Orbit Books, p/b, £8.99
Reviewed by Helen Armfield
Fans of Austen will find the beginning in a familiar form – lots of exposition both sets the characters beautifully, and marks this book out from The Parasol Protectorate series, from which they, like Prudence herself, are descended. Whilst readers of Gail Carriger’s earlier books will recognise ‘dear mama’, the Prudence series are designated YA and have more in common, in terms of content and form, with the Finishing school series which stylistically (& in print schedule) they follow on from. The skip in dates is at first jarring, but makes sense when you realise that it is the readers of those that are more likely to find Prudence on the shelves, and they are unlikely to have read the rest.
Thankfully the over-wordy nature falls away once the establishing scenes are done, and the book settles back into Carrigers usual precise and highly readable style. I found the book an easy read, but the earliest chapters led my teen to throw it against the wall more than once. Its content assumes a knowledge of archaeology and myth on the part of the reader, which had my younger teen heading for the bookshelves (although for her to double check she remembered something clearly, as a comics and fantasy nut herself, she was looking for the antecedents).
By the end of the tale we were both left wanting the next book to hurry up and be written, and this resulted in us arguing over who was keeping the copy to re-read first, and placing bets on Carriger ending up a story runner for Who, the Librarians, or Warehouse 13 before too much longer (or at least, trying to work out which of those series will be ‘borrowing’ the plot of Prudence for an episode). Its probably time for Netflix to sign all the CG books up *now* as between existing output and her prodigious work ethic, they could easily be the next ‘American Gothic’…