Tuesday, January 19, 2021

#Paranormal #SciFi Books: Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Series

See update below. Also two new books are coming out later in the year! See full list below.

 This year's goal: making my way through the 15 books in author Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series, magical/paranormal retellings of classic fairy tales. And in case you're wondering, plenty of ghosts, eerie events and such to keep paranormal people happy!
 
I read book 1, The Serpent's Shadow, years ago and somehow don't know why I never read further. But I always remembered the book made an impression on me. I now know why as these are addictive! Great characters, magic, paranormal elements and more. 

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I  also just finished The Gates of Sleep, (book 2 in the series). Now that I'm hooked on this series, I'm trying to read from the beginning though I also wanted to get  back to the later books with Holmes/Watson. The Elemental Masters series centers on classic fairy tales with a fantasy/paranormal/magical twist. This one made me think of Sleeping Beauty, which it is apparently based on.

 Marina is taken from her loving "adoptive" parents after the mysterious death of her parents into the home of her evil aunt. She soon finds that dark magic is tied to the family even as her aunt tries to reactive the ages-old evil curse she put on the baby Marina. 

REVIEW: Again, great paranormal elements, fascinating characters and dark history woven in, but the problem with this one is a lot of back story and description, with the real crux of the story not really showing up until a quarter way in. The book gets really interesting later, but it takes a while to get to the more magical and darker parts of the story. I still enjoyed it and was glad how it turned out in the end.

 Next, I wanted to continue the Holmes story so I'm reading book 14, The Case of the Spellbound Child. (It seems okay to read the books out of order, but I've since learned that a couple of these are continuations with stronger connections so I am reading  A Study in Sable (#11) as well. It turns out this I started mistakenly reading these out of order and backwards, but it hasn't ruined the enjoyment of the stories.)

* The Elemental Masters Series: (* marked as read)

 
 

* NOTE: Apparently when this series began, there was another book published originally by Baen Books. Amazon still lists it as the first book as well, so I added the cover and link here. (I'm excited as that gives me another book in the series to read. I don't want it to end!)

* 1. The Fire Rose - A Beauty and Beast tale. A medieval scholar is hired to read ancient manuscripts, in near-forgotten dialects. Her employer's interest is anything but academic as he seeks how to correct a misfired spell. (Enjoyed it!)

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The Serpent's Shadow, A reimagining of Snow White set in India in Edwardian England.

The Gates of Sleep, After the mysterious death of  her parents, Marina is taken into the care of her aunt, who exudes a dark evil and is set on destroying the girl she cursed as a baby. Based on Sleeping Beauty.

3  Phoenix and Ashes, A dark take on the Cinderella story when after the death of her father, Eleanor Robinson comes under the care of an evil stepmother who performs a dark ritual tying the girl to the home's hearth.

  
 * 4 The Wizard of London, In this dark retelling of The Snow Queen, 12-year-old Sarah Jane Lyon-White is in need of more training and protection when her teacher in charge of training those with "special" talents learns a powerful Elemental Master wants Sarah dead because of her rare skills as a true medium. (Their story continues in book 11.)

5 Reserved for the Cat, Unknown to Ninette Dupond, a dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet, a magical cat sent to protect her is actually an Elemental Spirit. As she follows the suggestion to impersonate a Russian ballerina, she doesn't know the spirt of the real balleina has been absorbed by a dark spirit bent on the dancer's destruction.

6 Unnatural Issue,  (I'm looking on Goodreads to figure out some of the fairy tales these are based on. This apparently is based on Donkeyskin, a French fairy tale by Charles Perrault first published in 1695, whose queen asks the King to marry someone more beautiful than her after she dies.) In this retelling, the reclusive Kng Richard Whitestone wants nothing to do with his daughter, Sarah, also an Earth Master who lives in another wing of the castle after his wife died in childbirth. Richard increasingly becomes obsessed with bringing his wife back to life through necromancy. He needs an appropriate vessel - like the daughter who's the image of her mother.

 

* 7  Home From The Sea,  (Someone on Goodreads mentioned this is a part sequel to The Wizard of Londonand introduces a grown-up Nan and Sarah.) Mari Prothero turns 16 and learns her family's fishing luck depends on each generation marrying a sea-dweller. (Is this based on the Greek tales of Poseidon perhaps or?) 

8  Steadfast, (A Goodreads comment mentions it's a "loose" retelling of The Steadfast Tin Soldier, a Hans Christian Anderson tale of a soldier's love for a Russian ballerina.) A circus performer, Katie Langford loses her parents in a fire and later flees an abusive marriage.  She soon learns she's a Fire Master, but something has blocked her powers. The doorman, also a Fire Master and a "steadfast" man, tries to help her before her Element blazes out of control.

9 Blood Red, Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Rosamund, an Earth Master, was rescued by her adoptive papa after her teacher was murdered by werewolves. Rosa agrees to help two Hungarian magicians investigating a string of murders. But she doesn't know one is a hereditary werewolf, and there is a third kind that can transform themselves at will. 

              

* 10 From A High Tower, In this retelling of Rapunzel, Giselle a young Air Master has been isolated for the sake of herself and others. When a young man tries to climb into her window, she's saved by her mother, an Earth Master. When she's 20, she cuts her hair and enters shooting competitions to support herself, but wonders if that man, whose body was never found, will come back to attack her. Certain his magic saved him, is she prepared to stand against him. (So far I've enjoyed the series, but this one lost my interest. I read halfway and decided to quit on it. Some inconsistencies and it lost me.)

* 11 A Study in Sable, This book introduces Sherlock Holmes and the Watsons to the series. Working with Lord Alderscroft, the Elemental Fire Master known as the Wizard of London, (see book 4) since leaving school., psychic Nan Killian and medium Sarah Lyon-White—along with their clever birds, the raven Neville and the parrot Grey—have a new assignment - to work with the famous man living at 221 Baker Street next to the famous Mr. Holmes. Dr. John Watson and his wife Mary, themselves Elemental Masters of Water and Air, take the occult cases John’s more famous friend disdains. Now they'll need every skill to confront and eliminate the mysterious and deadly entity that nearly killed them as children: the infamous Haunt of Number 10 Berkeley Square. 

* 12 A Scandal in Battersea, Christmas is a special time for Psychic Nan Killian and Medium Sarah Lyon-White and their ward Suki, who are determined to celebrate it properly.  It is special for their friends, Doctor John Watson, and his wife Mary, both Elemental Masters, who have found great delight in the season seeing it through young Suki’s eyes. It's also special for dark forces... As women and girl begin disappearing and others go mad, they and the Watsons called to examine the victims find it'll take their combined powers, magic and the greatest detective to stop the powers of darkness.  (* A sequel to book 11.)

 

13  The Bartered Brides, Mercedes Lackey -  Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Watson (and his wife) are also Elemental Masters who help two other Masters/Sleuths when girls keep disappearing and others are found dead. This has a strange paranormal link to Holmes' old nemesis, Professor Moriarty. 

* 14 The Case of the Spellbound Child, The opening line makes you wonder: Alf grinned as he pushed open the whorehouse door into the damp London night. This one also involves Holmes (still presumed dead) and the Watsons, and children missing in the Dartmoor bog. 

15  Jolene,  new release.  The latest in noted sci fi/fantasy author Mercedes Lackey's offerings, Jolene, offers a slight twist on the Dolly Parton song of the same name, with the unusual paranormal and magical elements she's known for.

This, #15 and the latest in her Elemental Masters series, which reimagines classic fairy tales, centers on a retelling of the Queen of the Copper Mountain and is set in America for the first time. Set around Tennessee's coal mines, the story centers on a poor girl Anna May who's sent to live with her aunt, the local herbal, "witchy" woman. Anna May works on developing her magical powers even as she falls in love with the local stone mason, who also has caught the eye of the mysterious and magical Jolene. 

REVIEW: Great story and characters, though the heavy use of dialect for Anna May was hard to read and had me skipping over those parts. But it's a great story. 

** Coming out later this year!

 
16. The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley, (Pre-Order. Publishes Dec. 14.)  Annie Oakley has always suspected there is something "uncanny" about herself, but has never been able to put a name to it. But when Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show goes on tour through Germany, Bill temporarily hires a new sharpshooter to be part of his "World Wide Congress of Rough Riders": a woman named Giselle, who also happens to be an Elemental Master of Air. Alongside this new performer, Annie discovers that she and her husband, Frank, are not simply master marksman, but also magicians of rare ability.

Also publishing later this year:
 

Briarheart (Pre-order. Publishes Oct. 5)  A teen version of an adaptation of Sleeping Beauty. (See Book 2 above, The Gates of Sleep, in the series.) She's the child of Alethia and her previous husband, the King's Champion, who died fighting for the king, and she has no ambitions to rule. When her new baby sister Aurora, heir to the throne, is born, she's ecstatic. She adores the baby, who seems perfect in every way. But on the day of Aurora's christening, an uninvited Dark Fae arrives, prepared to curse her, and Miriam discovers she possesses impossible power.Soon, Miriam is charged with being trained in both magic and combat to act as chief protector to her sister. But shadowy threats are moving closer and closer to their kingdom, and Miriam's dark power may not be enough to save everyone she loves, let alone herself.

 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

What I'm Reading: Mercedes Lackey' & #SherlockHolmes #Sci Fi #Fantasy #paranormal

Yes, I do read other things. I'm kind of zombie-d out at the moment, so I got back into some other genres. 

It's been a while since I discovered Mercedes Lackey's fantastic paranormal series. I read book 1,  The Serpent's Shadow, years ago. I don't know how I failed to get back to this series. I'm thrilled to begin reading it again and glad I'll have a long series (15 books!) to read through.

So that's one of the 2021 goals...

While you can read the books out of order, some do interconnect with characters. Amusingly (or not!), it turns out I read several books backwards not realizing there was a sequel involved until I read some of the comments on Goodreads. So, I'm kind of catching up.

Interestingly, most of the series is based on retellings of classic fairy tales, though a few of the middle and later books involve Sherlock Holmes, his sidekick. Dr. John Watson and Watson's wife, Mary, who also are Elemental Master/Magicians. There also are two interesting women who are instrumental, recurrent characters, one a medium, one a psychic with their specially-trained  and magical raven and parrot.

* I also read her latest, book 15,  Jolene, which I'll include a short review in the follow-up post.

Here's a few I've read and am reading with the Holmes stories. (* marked as read.)

              

11 A Study in Sable, This book introduces Sherlock Holmes and the Watsons to the series. Working with Lord Alderscroft, the Elemental Fire Master known as the Wizard of London, (see book 4) since leaving school., psychic Nan Killian and medium Sarah Lyon-White—along with their clever birds, the raven Neville and the parrot Grey—have a new assignment - to work with the famous man living at 221 Baker Street next to the famous Mr. Holmes. Dr. John Watson and his wife Mary, themselves Elemental Masters of Water and Air, take the occult cases John’s more famous friend disdains. Now they'll need every skill to confront and eliminate the mysterious and deadly entity that nearly killed them as children: the infamous Haunt of Number 10 Berkeley Square.  (Reading now.)

 12 A Scandal in BatterseaChristmas is a special time for Psychic Nan Killian and Medium Sarah Lyon-White and their ward Suki, who are determined to celebrate it properly.  It is special for their friends, Doctor John Watson, and his wife Mary, both Elemental Masters, who have found great delight in the season seeing it through young Suki’s eyes. It's also special for dark forces... As women and girl begin disappearing and others go mad, they and the Watsons called to examine the victims find it'll take their combined powers, magic and the greatest detective to stop the powers of darkness.  (* A sequel to book 11.) (Read)

 

13  The Bartered Brides, Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Watson (and his wife) are also Elemental Masters who help two other Masters/Sleuths when girls keep disappearing and others are found dead. This has a strange paranormal link to Holmes' old nemesis, Professor Moriarty. 

 14 The Case of the Spellbound Child, The opening line makes you wonder: Alf grinned as he pushed open the whorehouse door into the damp London night. This one also involves Holmes (still presumed dead) and the Watsons, and children missing in the Dartmoor bog. (Also started reading.)