Desert Isle Keeper
This is the second in the author’s Custard Protocol series, following up on last year’s Prudence. This time, in addition to the usual silliness I adore, we also get some bittersweet moments as Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama – or Rue to her friends – faces serious issues with her birth parents. If you haven’t read any of the author’s previous series (or even the first in the Custard Protocol series) I don’t think this will make a lot of sense. I’ve read each book in the author’s three series, and for me this is a solid DIK.
Rue and the crew of her dirigible, the Spotted Custard, are back in England after their adventures in India. We are immediately thrown into a meeting between Rue and Queen Victoria, in which the Queen is very displeased with Rue’s actions in Prudence. Her Majesty repeatedly insults Rue and eventually strips her of her powers and protection (the latter leaves Rue puzzled about what protection she had).
Once Rue leaves Court she’s thrown into a wild scene with various supernaturals including her father’s werewolf pack. Her father, Lord Maccon (the hero of the Parasol Protectorate series), is nowhere in sight, and the pack is behaving very badly. Rue is forced to use her ability as a metanatural (one who can take on the power of any being) to take werewolf form and keep the pack in line.
Rue quickly realizes that all three of her parents are keeping secrets from her, and begins to suspect that part of it relates to Lord Maccon: when Alpha werewolves such as he lose their control they are put down. Rue begins to search for answers, a quest that eventually leads her and her crew to Egypt.
Many of Rue’s crew are the children of characters from the Parasol Protectorate books, and we get visits from both primary and secondary characters from that series. The various crew members take their relationships in some new and interesting directions. Percy – the navigator and brother of Rue’s best friend Prim – is feuding with Quesnel (Rue’s would-be-lover) over academic publishing issues that threaten to put the ship in danger. Prim has been engaged to a string of men – none of whom she loves – but then she encounters a rather unexpected admirer. And of course, Spoo, the little deckling, is back to provide comic relief throughout the book.
When the story opens, Quesnel is in Egypt, leaving Rue slightly miffed since he was supposed to teach her about the pleasures of carnal flesh (Rue’s words, not mine). But Quesnel quickly returns and is big a flirt as ever. I’ll admit I wasn’t particularly fond of him in Prudence, and actually hoped Rue would get involved with Percy. However, as Prudence and Quesnel do become lovers, we learn more about him, and I definitely warmed to him.
The Spotted Custard is attacked repeatedly both in England and in Egypt, offering plenty of adventure for those readers who crave it; and the book strikes the perfect balance between the exploration of the relationships between the crew members and those adventures. But even better for a long time fan of the author’s series, we learn a lot more about Rue’s relationship with her parents.
Ultimately Imprudence offers an interesting mix of silliness, real danger, and character development. Best of all is the resolution of longtime issues for Lord Maccon and Alexia, dating back to the last book in the Parasol Protectorate series, Timeless. Many authors stop a series, or slow down the time process, not wanting to age their characters. That’s simply not the case here. Ms. Carriger does go there, and she does it marvelously.
Imprudence is a wonderful second entry in the series, even stronger than the first. I loved it and am sure fans of Prudence will love it as well.