Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Serpent's Shadow by Mercedes Lackey

I have read 2 novels by Mercedes Lackey, both in the Elementals Series.  There's a bit of confusion about which is the first novel in this series--if you look in the books, this is the first novel, but if you look online it's listed as the second in the series, after The Fire Rose.  Either way, the important thing is that you can read either one first.  They are completely separate stories--the only link is the Elemental magic part.  

My sis-in-law has adored Mercedes Lackey for years and years--when I lived with her and my brother during my college years in PA (ahem 20 years ago) she had every book Mercedes Lackey ever wrote and I'm pretty sure she still does.  

Here's what I like about this series, based on two books:  they are fun, they are historical and magical fantasy, and they are based on magic that works with fire, earth, air, and water.  They can get a bit preachy at times--the first two take place in the early 1900's when women were fighting for the right to vote.  I just take that with a grain of salt and move on.  It's not a big deal to me and doesn't interfere with the gist of the novel. In this novel, Maya is a "half-breed"--half English, half Indian.  Her parents are dead, and she flees India to London in order to put some distance between whatever killed her parents and herself.  Her father was a doctor, and she is, too.  Female doctors aren't very common in England, and she has to fight to get her certificate to work in the local charity hospital.  On the side, she has a clinic set up in her home to help people who live on the streets.  Maya has to fight against people who judge her by her skin, the fact that she's a female doctor, unmarried, and a foreigner.  

She's also an Earth elemental, but doesn't really know it.  For reasons you find out in the story, her mother (a super magical woman herself) would not teach her anything, so she's cobbled together some small spells she can use to keep her home, herself, and her loyal servants safe from whatever is out to get her.  

But, she needs to learn, and quickly.  For whatever was looking to kill her in India has come to London, and it's looking for her.  

This is a retelling of Snow White; all of the Elemental books are based on a fairy tale.  The Fire Rose is Beauty and the Beast in San Francisco just before the great earthquake.  

So if you're looking for a fun fantasy series, try this one.  I've been happy enough with the first two books that I've managed to buy the next 3 or so and they're waiting on my shelves.  I think there are seven or eight in the series so far, and I don't see an end anytime soon.  They are a welcome break from some of the contemporary fiction I've been reading.  

Rating:  7/10 for sheer enjoyment factor.  I have found another author I can enjoy!

This series is available in mass market paperback and as e-books.  You could also probably get used hardcover editions either in used bookstores or online.

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