Soulless: a little like Austen, but with werewolves. Better than it sounds.

The blurb on the cover of this book calls it Austen meets Wodehouse, which I don’t think is fair at all.  If it has any Wodehouse in it, its presumably Psmith, because there’s no Mulliner or Jeeves about it. I can sort of see Austen, if I work hard at it, in that Soulless, like Austen, is poking fun at the manners of the period, and the books in which they were treated as terribly important.

If what it meant was “this is a comedy of manners with some romance thrown in”, then that’s fair enough.

Pastiche is tricky. The point is that you find humor in the references to work you already know, but the author’s touch needs to be light, and their observations on the original need to be deft. The alternative is a book where the joke flags part way through, like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, for example, which doesn’t have enough steam to reach the end of the plot.

So, it’s a romance novel, in a slightly steampunk world, where a spinster-heroine, armed only with cutting wit, a lead weighted umbrella, and the power to neutralize other people’s supernatural abilities must navigate the strange social protocols of a Victorian Britain where etiquette was invented by vampires, and the Empire was carved out of by werewolves.

It’s rather good. It’s not actually as good as either Austen or Wodehouse, but it’s a pleasure that I’m looking forward to repeating with the other books in the series.