Prudence Alessandra Maccon Alkedma, Rue to her friends, is bored with the sights and sounds of London. As the world’s only metanatural, her life is closely monitored (and feared) by those supernaturals who consider her an abomination. She spends her days roaming around London and her nights at balls and parties or on missions of intrigue for her family.
After a particularly adventurous evening, she returns home to find her adopted father, Lord Akeldma, has a new mission for her. He is missing some tea leaves and wants Rue to recover them. Rue is all for a great cup of tea – she is, after all, Alexia Tarabotti Maccon’s daughter, but she doesn’t understand what makes this set of leaves so special. One taste of the tea they produce, however, is sufficient enough for Rue to understand these leaves’ appeal. With the help of her best friend, a few not so special other people she tolerates because she has no choice, and her new dirigible, the Spotted Custard, she sets off for India and hopefully, a wonderful adventure.
Prudence is like a steampunk version of Indiana Jones. It has adventure, action, mischief, and even a dash of romance. While there is no cliffhanger, there is a tone of more to come. Rue, even better, is an awesome character. She is intelligent, honest, and well aware of her faults; she even admits when she is wrong and doesn’t know something. I like how she is so curious and accepting of the cultures around her, delighting in each new difference she encounters. Some characters in books come across as Eurocentric and judgmental when dealing with cultures other than their own. This is definitely not a problem with Rue. If there is one fault she is guilty of having, it is being too curious, too eager to see every person’s uniqueness. Rue acts and leaps before thinking and this sometimes gets her into trouble.
Don’t worry if you haven’t read any of Carriger’s other books – Prudence can be read as a stand-alone. For those who have read titles in the Parasol Protectorate series, Prudence (Book 1 in the Custard Protocol series) is a treasure trove of familiar faces and names. I had read the other books so it is a glorious experience seeing my favorite characters twenty years later.
There is a dark undertone to the story, however. Something is going on behind the scenes in England with Rue’s birth parents that she is not aware of. It makes me slightly afraid to read the next book, Imprudence, when it comes out next year for fear something bad may happen. I love all of these characters and the world they live in and want nothing bad to happen to any of them. I would cry if any one of them died; seriously, like ugly cry.
In regards to the narration… Moira Quirk is one of my favorite narrators. I actively look for her name on the Coming Soon page at Audible because she does such an amazing job of bringing any story she narrates to life. Discovering her name as the narrator for this series was the highlight of my year. I enjoy Moira Quirk and her performance here is amazing. She captures all of the characters’ personalities and their foibles very well. She also performs the range of accents flawlessly, everything from sub-continent Indian to French. There were a couple of times that her words would slur together, making it difficult for me to hear what she was saying. I would have to stop, rewind, and determine what I had missed. Regardless, this is only a small fault and easily overlooked with the rest of the performance.
Before requesting this as a review title, I visited Audible several times, debating whether or not to buy Prudence or ask my library for it. As noted in some of these reviews, there are differences in the pronunciations of several names as well as tones for a number of characters from that found in the Parasol Protectorate books. However, this is a new story. It is told from Rue’s point of view. Those characters have changed and grown and Rue sees them from a different perspective. It makes perfect sense to me that Quirk’s use of alternate accents and names be different since Rue sees them differently. And as Quirk did sound out most of the names like Ms. Gray did previously, I can only assume she had some author input. In my opinion, Quirk is a fabulous choice for this book and she performs excellently. This title is one of my top picks for the year so far and it is all because of Moira Quirk.
Book Content: B+
Steam Factor: You can play it out loud
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Prudence was provided to AudioGals by Hachette Audio for review.