Carolyn Cushman Reviews Competence by Gail Carriger and The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire

Gail Carriger, Competence (Orbit US 978-0-316-43388-4, $26.00, 309pp, hc) July 2018. Cover by Don Sipley & Michael Roberts.

The steampunk fun ramps up in this third volume in the Custard Protocol series, a spin-off from Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. This time, the main focus shifts to Primrose Tunstell, purser of the airship The Spotted Custard and style-conscious friend of Captain Prudence Akeldama. Their airship needs repairs, and the damage is bad enough that it strands Prim in Sin­gapore with only the female werecat Tasherit for help – and it quickly becomes apparent that Tasherit has strong feelings for the oblivious Prim. Wacky adventures ensue as the two get back to their ship, which takes off on a mission to Peru in search of lost vampires. There’s also a bit of a philosophical sub-plot as Prim’s scholarly twin Percy decides to reform Prudence’s soulless cousin Rodrigo. Over­all, though, this is less about thrilling adventures and new discoveries than about the highly entertain­ing Seduction of Primrose, nicely wrapped up with happy endings for much of the crew.

Seanan McGuire, The Girl in the Green Silk Gown (DAW 978-0-7564-1380-4, $16.00, 333pp, tp) July 2018. Cover by Amber Whitney.

Rose Marshall, the hitchhiker ghost, returns in this exciting sequel to Sparrow Hill Road in the Ghost Roads series. Rose, who died the night of her prom, has been haunting the roads and diners for decades, known by fans of ghost stories as the Girl in the Green Silk Gown or the Phantom Prom Date. The man who killed her, though, the immortal Bobby Cross, has never forgiven her for escaping with her soul, and he has plans for revenge, starting with a way to make her alive again so he can kill her and take her soul to power his car. Rose’s only hope is to find a way back to the world of the dead and beings who can help her, and it makes for a wild adventure through a world full of magic and lore involving roads and ghosts – and a really memo­rable take on Halloween pumpkin patches.

Carolyn F. Cushman, Senior Editor, has worked for Locus since 1985, the longest of any of the current staff, and handles our in-house books database, writes our New and Notable section, and does the monthly Books Received column. She is a graduate of Western Washington University with a degree in English. She published a fantasy novel, Witch and Wombat, in 1994.

This review and more like it in the September 2018 issue of Locus.

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