Prudence (Custard Protocol Series 1)

Prudence (Custard Protocol Series 1)

By: Gail Carriger


Orbit US (March 2015)

A YA Fantasy Steampunk review

(Review of the first in Carriger’s previous series here:

Prudence, releases March 17, 2015

When Dama, better known to those who aren’t his adopted daughter as Lord Akeldama, gives Lady Prudence not only an advanced dirigible, but also a dangerous, tea-centric mission in India to carry out, the world’s only metanatural charges full-steam ahead.  After all, with her best friend Primrose to ensure the supply of proper pastries, Professor Percy to do research, and Quesnel Lefoux’s engineering, how far off course could Prudence’s crew really go?  Unfortunately, it turns out that a mysterious kidnapping, disputes over an international treaty, and the maneuverings of a secretive liaison can steer one sadly far away from one’s tea.  Nevertheless, the youngest and most impulsive of the Maccons must captain her ship through the tumult.

Prudence introduces its next generation of characters with gusto.  They manage to takeover all the action without replacing any of the drama still to come for the elder generation.  Carriger makes it clear that these older relationships will still bear fruit.  Still, it is easy to set it aside for Prudence’s new characters and new climes.  While the title heroine feels much more immature and in need of development than Alexia, it is fascinating to see this world through such different eyes.  The depths of Prudence’s new acquaintances are barely skimmed, but are already as rich and smooth as whipped cream.  Once in India, the scintillating expansion of this world and its inhabitants unfolds with a marvelous flair for intrigue.  The plot’s twists and discoveries proved hearty, satisfying fare, well-buttered and crisped.  It kept me up, devouring it, until much later than I intended.  The lacking aspect of this novel is the romance.  Prudence’s flirtation brings out nothing in either of its participants and progresses in a stilted fashion, without enough substance to back it up: a rather weak serving of tea to accompany an excellent meal.  However, as the first book in a companion series, Prudence had a lot to establish, and there will be later books to grow both the heroine’s romance and maturity.  All in all, this debut makes me very eager for the rest of the Custard Protocol books.  Perhaps with some illustrations of Queen Ivy’s horrific hats?

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