Unnatural Issue

Sunday, August 21, 2011



This post is part of a week-long series of reviews of Mercedes Lackey novels. See intro post for more information.

Unnatural Issue
Mercedes Lackey, 2011

Premise: When Susanne was born, her mother died, and her father went insane with grief, refusing to acknowledge her and secluding himself from the world. This would be a sad story in any case, however her father was a skilled Master of Earth magic. As Susanne grew, she became an Earth Master as well, but her father starts dabbling in darker spells, and begins to think that he could bring his beloved back from the grave, if only he finds the right vessel. A girl of twenty-one who looks very like her mother fits the profile perfectly.

The Elemental Masters series consists of semi-linked volumes that can also stand alone. I've read a few in the past, but not the most recent, and still I could jump into this one easily. What links the books, besides the occasional recurring character, are two things. First the world: early 1900's Europe plus elemental magic. This one is set at the cusp of World War One. Second, each Elemental Masters novel is gently based on, or maybe I should say “inspired by” a fairy tale. Unnatural Issue is based loosely on The King Who Wished to Marry his Daughter or possibly a similar tale.

For most of the book, this is a romantic fantasy adventure, fairly light in tone. I found the necromancy practiced by Richard only inspired the necessary horror about half the time. Susanne is resourceful, if naïve and silly about certain things, and she's not a bad character to follow, although I didn't fall in love with her. Also, she's friends with Puck, which gives her a powerful ally outside of the human mages who try to teach and protect her.

I got a little tired of the romantic plot, honestly, as it was clear fairly early on exactly what was going to happen.

Fairly late, however, the book takes a harder tone, stops telling the reader all the villain's plans, and becomes much more compelling. There was one particular scene (which had nothing to do with the personal plot and everything to do with the war) that I found quite moving.

The climax fell a smidge flat for me. It wasn't bad at all, just a bit predictable. I did enjoy reading this, it was fun, but nothing about it (except possibly that one scene) really made me say “Wow!”

3 Stars – A Good Book

Check out Unnatural Issue on Amazon.com

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