By Gail Carriger
To Sum It Up: Lady Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama and her beloved airship The Spotted Custard have returned home to England, but it’s not a happy welcome that awaits them. Rue faces a most displeased Queen Victoria and is promptly divested of her legal protections under the Crown. Life with Rue’s preternatural/werewolf/vampire family has never been tranquil, but when the situation takes a very serious turn, Rue and the crew of The Spotted Custard undertake an urgent mission that is extremely dear to Rue’s heart.
Review: After having some pacing issues with the previous novel, Prudence, and just not feeling that the latter was on the same level as its parent series, The Parasol Protectorate, I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to read Imprudence. I changed my mind, though, after absolutely adoring Gail Carriger’s recent novella, Poison or Protect, which is also set in the same wonderful supernatural/steampunk Victorian world. I’d also seen a few reviewers on Goodreads with quibbles similar to mine regarding Prudence say that Imprudence was a much more satisfying read. Feeling optimistic, I picked up this book, and I’m so, so, so happy that I did.
Whereas the plot of Prudence never really seemed to gel, the sequel sports a well-developed story line that both brings closure for some Parasol Protectorate characters but leaves room for plenty of future adventures for Rue and company. This would probably be an opportune moment to mention that The Custard Protocol is truly a spin-off series, and you really do need to have read The Parasol Protectorate to follow what happens in Prudence and especially Imprudence.
I’m practically giddy writing about how much I loved the humor in this book. Imprudence just sparkles with wit throughout its pages, even in the midst of battle. Yes, battle! Rue’s poor ship finds itself besieged on multiple occasions, and the fighting is quite intense. Rue really steps up to her leadership role as lady captain of The Spotted Custard in this book, and it’s equally lovely to see the camaraderie that has developed among her plucky crew.
While all of the characters feel more fleshed out in Imprudence, Rue’s growth is perhaps the most striking. She actually turns twenty-one in the novel and is officially an independent woman, no longer under the protection of her parents and, thanks to the fallout from The Spotted Custard’s recent escapade, no longer afforded protection by Queen Victoria. Attaining her majority isn’t the only life change Rue faces in the book, either. A family crisis rocks the world she’s grown up in and alters it forever. Although certain events in Imprudence had been foreshadowed even back in The Parasol Protectorate, I still found myself getting quite emotional, and my heart broke for Rue. She gathers her courage, though, and leads her crew through not one but two missions. I really loved this lady by the end of the book and her quirky but endearing companions, too.
Overall, Imprudence was a heap of rollicking good fun that often made me laugh out loud, a very common occurrence when reading Gail Carriger’s works. Imprudence was also deeply poignant at times, and a frenzy of action at others. It appears that The Spotted Custard won’t be lifting off again for some time while its ingenious creator concentrates on some more novellas, so I’ll just savor these adventures in the meantime.
All in All: Everything just clicked into place in Imprudence—it was sweet, it was thrilling, and most of all, it was HILARIOUS!