Created by Gail Carriger–the pen name of American archaeologist and author Tofa Borregaard–the Parasol Protectorate series is the heart of a large literary universe composed of multiple series of steampunk paranormal romance stories.
The Parasol Protectorate series is first about a young woman with no soul named Alexia Tarabotti who ends up dealing with the supernatural, a situation that leads her to a series of dangerous investigations of London’s high society. Another series chronicles the exciting life of a student at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, and the adventures of Prudence, the daughter of Alexia.
How to read The Parasol Protectorate Series in Order?
I. The Parasol Protectorate Series
- The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t (prequel short story) – Alessandro Tarabotti and his valet, Floote, are on a mission in Egypt when they encounter visiting tourists and the situation turns to mummies, cricket, and hot air balloons.
- Meat Cute: The Hedgehog Incident (prequel novella) – Alexia Tarabotti attends what appears to be a very dull London party, until the new werewolf Alpha turns up, is unconscionably rude to her, and sits on a hedgehog.
- Soulless – Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
- Changeless – Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears; leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria. But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol and an arsenal of biting civility. So even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.
- Blameless – Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London’s vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.
- Heartless – When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband’s past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux’s latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines, Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.
- Timeless – Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire’s second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Until, that is, she receives a summons that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle.
II. The Finishing School Series
In this prequel series, fourteen-year-old Sophronia is sent to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality where the curriculum is not what she expected it to be.
- Etiquette & Espionage – Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners-and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s young ladies learn to finish . . . everything.
- Curtsies & Conspiracies – Sophronia’s first year at school has certainly been rousing. First, her finishing school is training her to be a spy. Secondly, she gets mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and has a cheese pie thrown at her. Now, as Sophronia sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers’ quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship’s boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than at first appears . . .
- Waistcoats & Weaponry – Sophronia continues finishing school in style – with a range of deadly defences secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Her fashionable choice of weapons comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap and the charming Lord Felix Mersey hijack a suspiciously empty train to return their chum Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland.
- Manners & Mutiny – When a dastardly Pickleman plot comes to fruition, only Sophronia can save her friends, her school, and all of London…but at what cost? Our proper young heroine puts her training and skills to the test in this highly anticipated conclusion of the rousing, intriguing, and always polished New York Times bestselling Finishing School series!
III. The Custard Protocol Series
This spin-off/sequel resolves around Metanatural Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (also called Rue), daughter of Alexia Tarabotti and Lord Conall Maccon and the adopted daughter of Lord Akeldama, the crew of the Spotted Custard.
- Prudence – When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances – names it the Spotted Crumpet and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves.
- Imprudence – Rue and the crew of the Spotted Custard return from India with revelations that shake the foundations of England’s scientific community. Queen Victoria is not amused, the vampires are tetchy, and something is wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue’s best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most unacceptable military types.
- Competence – All alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail. When she uncovers rumors of a new kind of vampire, Prim and the Custard crew embark on a mission to Peru. There, they encounter airship pirates and strange atmospheric phenomena, and are mistaken for representatives of the Spanish Inquisition.
- Reticence – Percival Tunstell loves that his sister and her best friend are building themselves a family of misfits aboard their airship, the Spotted Custard. Of course, he’d never admit that he belongs among them. He’s always been on the outside – dispassionate, aloof, and hatless. But accidental spies, a trip to Japan, and one smart and beautiful doctor may have him renegotiating his whole philosophy on life.
IV. The Delightfully Deadly Series
This series is a spin-off of the Finishing School series featuring lady assassins finding romance.
- Poison or Protect (novella) – Lady Preshea Villentia, the Mourning Star, has four dead husbands and a nasty reputation. Fortunately, she looks fabulous in black. What society doesn’t know is that all her husbands were marked for death by Preshea’s employer. And Preshea has one final assignment.
- Defy or Defend – Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott, code name Honey Bee, is the War Office’s best and most decorative fixer. She’s sweet and chipper, but oddly stealthy, and surprisingly effective given the right incentives. Sir Crispin Bontwee was knighted for his military service, but instead of retiring, he secretly went to work for the War Office. Mostly he enjoys his job, except when he must safeguard the Honey Bee. Neither one is a vampire expert, but when the Nottingham Hive goes badly Goth, only Dimity can stop their darkness from turning bloody. And only Crispin can stop an enthusiastic Dimity from death by vampire.
- Ambush or Adore – Agatha Woosmoss, the Wallflower, is the greatest intelligencer of her generation. And no one knows she exists. She has been invisible, capable, and cunning for well over four decades. Her greatest skill is in her ability to go forever unnoticed. Except by one man. Pillover Plumleigh-Teignmott is a professor of ancient languages at Oxford University. He’s tried to ignore his training as an Evil Genius and live a quiet life away from politics and intrigue. When an assignment goes horribly wrong, Agatha must hide and heal. So she goes to ground with the only person who’s always kept her safe, Pillover.
V. Supernatural Society and other novellas
Spin-off/Novella series about love stories set in the Parasolverse.
- Romancing the Inventor – Imogene Hale is a lowly parlormaid with a soul-crushing secret. Desperate to understand her own desires, she takes work at a local vampire hive, only to fall in love with the amazing lady inventor the vampires have imprisoned in their potting shed.
- Romancing the Werewolf – Biffy, newly minted Alpha of the London Pack, is not having a good Christmas. His Beta abandoned him. His werewolves object to his curtain choices. And someone keeps leaving human babies on his doorstep. Professor Randolph Lyall returns home to London after twenty years abroad to find his pack in chaos and his Alpha in crisis. It will take a lot of Beta efficiency to set everything to rights. Perhaps, in the process, he may even mend his own heart.
VI. The Claw & Courtship Series
- How to Marry a Werewolf (novella) – The monsters left Faith ruined in the eyes of society, so now they’re her only option. Faith crosses the Atlantic, looking for a marriage of convenience and revenge. But things are done differently in London… Werewolves are civilized. At least they pretend to be.
The Parasol Protectorate Series in Chronological Order:
- The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t (novella)
- Etiquette & Espionage
- Curtsies & Conspiracies
- Waistcoats & Weaponry
- Manners & Mutiny
- Poison or Protect (novella)
- Defy or Defend
- Ambush or Adore
- Meat Cute: The Hedgehog Incident (novella)
- Romancing the Inventor (novella)
- Romancing the Werewolf (novella)
- How to Marry a Werewolf (novella)
If you like The Parasol Protectorate reading order, you may also want to check out the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences or the Veronica Speedwell series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.