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Chapter 1: In Which Parasols Prove Useful

Alexia Terabotti, 26, spinster (and half Italian), is attending a Private ball, and having a dismal time. She heads to the library, only to be found by a vampire. This vampire has no idea that she has no soul–meaning that not only will it be impossible for him to feed off of her, but she can make him mortal and put him in danger. After a few failed attempts at attacking her and a slight scuffle (involving Alexia’s personalized parasol and flying food) the vampire is pinned on the ground with Alexia’s wooden hair “stake” hovering over his heart. She explains that she is preternatural, and is surprised to find that his hive queen has not explained her kind to him (there is an official list at the BUR, Bureau of Unnatural registry) and warned him to avoid her. Since he cannot feed from her, he tries to choke her. Another scuffle ends with the hair stake through his heart. Alexia decides to leave just as a group of dandies enters. She decides to pretend she just stumbled upon the scene, screams and pretends to faint. After some time, Lord Conall Maccon, Alpha werewolf and BUR agent, arrives to “revive” and question Alexia. Lord Maccon’s Beta, Professor Lyall, examines the body. He and Alexia agree that his drastic action (attacking Alexia) was due to starvation, so he must not be associated with a particular hive (a hive queen would never let one of their own get to such a starved or disheveled state). Lord Maccon tries to question Alexia, and they simply end up arguing. Eventually Alexia explains that she snuck off because she had been promised food, and finding none at the dance, ordered some from the butler. Lord Maccon tells her that sort of thing is not done, but Prof. Lyall presents her with a sandwich, kept on hand for when Lord Maccon gets grouchy. Alexia also tells them she doesn’t understand why they are even there, and Prof. Lyall tells her that if they cannot prove conclusively that she was defending herself, she could face murder charges. But they decided the more pressing matter is why the vampire had no knowledge of Alexia’s state, social protocol, etc. It means a hive queen is trying to create vampires outside of regulations, and without anyone knowing. Since hives usually throw parties to celebrate someone surviving the transformation since survival is so rare (only someone with an excess of soul can survive, and there is no way to tell beforehand). There is something more insidious going on than just a rouge vampire.


“She whacked the vampire right on top of the head with [her parasol] as he tried to extract himself from his newly intimate relations with the tea trolley. The buckshot gave the brass parasol just enough heft to make a deliciously satisfying thunk.
‘Manners!’ instructed Miss Tarabotti.
The vampire howled in pain and sat back down on the treacle tart.”


Why do you think the vampire attacked Alexia? Why didn’t he use one of the society approved methods of feeding?

Chapter 2: An Unexpected Invitation

At breakfast the next morning Alexia’s younger (half) sisters, Felicity and Evylin Loontwill, are discouraged to see that the news from the ball is not what they wore, but the death in the library. Alexia isn’t mentioned (only that a young lady discovered the body), nor the fact that it was a vampire that was killed. Alexia’s family has no idea that she has no soul, and she has no intention of telling them. Her mother and sisters quickly move on, since there were very few details in the paper, and begin to discuss what everyone else was wearing.


How does Lord Akeldama know that Alexia killed the vampire before she told him?

What do you think Countess Nadasdy wants from Alexia?

Read the complete chapter 2 summary and join our discussion here.