Competence and Reticence by Gail Carriger

Genre: Steampunk
Secondary genre: Romance
CW: violence
Rep: LGBT+, POC (multiple), autism coding
Series: The Custard Protocol vol. 3 & 4

I love Gail Carriger. I’ve reviewed her books before. That being said, these are probably my two favorites of hers so far, excluding Soulless.

I don’t want to delve too much into the plot of these books, since they are sequels and it would give away the secret sauce. Suffice to say that these two volumes focus on Primrose and her twin brother, Percy, and the specific challenges they face in seeking romance.

Much to my surprise, while Primrose had previously been a character I really liked, I found myself liking her less when the story was told from her brother’s perspective. Either I was mistaken in my judgment of her, or Carriger is just so fantastic at writing from multiple voices that I picked up Percy’s feelings for her instead. I might have to go back and reread the series all in one go at some point to decide.

I love Carriger’s imagined world, and the way technology works within in, particularly her re-imagining of Tokyo. She has such a diverse group of characters, especially in these books, and it’s really a breath of fresh air. She manages to balance cultural sensitivity with the humor that naturally arises from cultural and personality clashes.

I am reasonably sure that Reticence is the last book in this series, and as a finale it’s wonderful, pulling together characters from all of the Parasol-verse series, an wrapping up the dangling threads (tassels, anyone? Inside joke. You’ll get it after you read Competence), but not so tidily as to be dull or predictable.

And my favorite character is and will always be Footnote the cat.

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