Synopses & Reviews
Maya Witherspoon had lived most of the first twenty-five years of her life in her native India. As the daughter of a prominent British physician and a Brahmin woman of the highest caste, she had known only luxury. Trained by her father in the medical arts since she was old enough to read, she graduated from the University of Delhi as a Doctor of Medicine by the age of twenty-two. Welcomed into her father’s lucrative practice, she treated many of the wives and daughters of the British military personnel who made up a large percentage of their patients in the colonial India of 1909.
But the science of medicine was not Maya’s only heritage. For Maya’s aristocratic mother Surya, had not just defied her family, friends and religion to marry Maya’s father, she had turned her back on her family’s powerful magical traditions as well. For her mother was a sorceress—a former priestess of the mystical magics fueled by the powerful and fearsome pantheon of Indian gods.
Though Maya felt the stirring of magic in her blood, her mother had repeatedly refused to train her. “I cannot,” she had said, her eyes dark with distress, whenever Maya asked. “Yours is the magic of your father’s blood, not mine….” Surya had never had the chance to explain this enigmatic statement to her daughter, before cholera claimed her life. Yet Maya suspected that something far more sinister than the virulent disease had overcome her powerful mother.
But it was Maya’s father’s death shortly thereafter which confirmed her darkest suspicions. For her father was killed by the bite of a krait, a tiny venomous snake, and in the last hours of her mother’s life, in the seeming delirium of her fever, Surya had repeatedly warned Maya to beware “the serpent’s shadow.” With the sudden loss of her father, Maya knew she must flee the land of her birth or face the same fate as her parents.
In self-imposed exile in London, Maya surrounded herself with every protection possible. All the magic Maya knew had been learned by covertly observing her mother, and by cobbling this knowledge together with the street-magic gleaned from a few genuine fakirs. Her workings were a mixture of instinct, extrapolation, and trial-and-error. Crude, but somewhat effective, her spells let Maya hide her household behind a wall of secrecy in a poorer section of the city. Here, in a small but adequate house she lived with only the most loyal of her mother’s servants, and her mother’s seven unusual “pets”—if you could use such a word for creatures who seemed far more like friends. For Charan, the little monkey, Rajah, the peacock, Mala, the falcon, Sia and Singhe, the mongooses, Rhadi, the parrot, and Nisha, the owl seemed far too sentient to be ordinary animals. Maya knew that these seven unusual and loving companions had been in some way special to her mother, but their secrets were hidden to her, perhaps forever.
In her new home she fought the dual prejudices against her sex and her race to continue in her medical profession. Only her high scholastic abilities and her extreme determination enabled her to meet with any success. She managed to place herself in a minor position at a prestigious hospital while she pursued her own medical passions: helping the poor at a tiny clinic where they welcomed any doctor, and setting up a small, controversial practice which specialized in “female complaints” and offered “absolute discretion.”
But Maya knew that she could not hide forever from the vindictive power which had murdered her parents. She knew in her heart that even a vast ocean couldn’t protect her from “the serpent’s shadow” which had so terrified her mother. Her only hope was to find a way to master her own magic: the magic of her father’s blood. But who...
"With colorful characters, Lackey makes her variation of the Sleeping Beauty story great fun to read."—Booklist
"[Lackey] turns her hand to historical fantasy in this intriguing and compelling re-creation of England in the waning days of its imperial glory."—Library Journal
"Beautiful phrasing and a thorough grounding in the dress, mannerisms and history of the period help move the story along gracefully...fully fleshed out and credible. This is a wonderful example of a new look at an old theme."—Publishers Weekly
"Putting a fresh face to a well-loved fairytale is not an easy task, but it is one that seems effortless to the prolific Lackey, best known for her Valdemar series (Arrows of the Queen, etc.)." —Publishers Weekly
"YAs who liked fairy tales as kids will enjoy Lackey's spin on an old favorite." —School Library Journal
Following her acclaimed novels The Serpent's Shadow and The Gates of Sleep, Mercedes Lackey reinvents a classic fairy tale-and gives it a new twist. In a dark and atmospheric retelling of Cinderella, she sets her story in London during the first World War.
For as long as she could remember, Marina Roeswood had lived in an old, rambling farmhouse in rural Cornwall in the care of close friends of her wealthy, aristocratic parents. In the seventeen years that she had been fostered by Sebastian and Margherita Tarrant, and Margherita's brother, Thomas Buford, she had lived an almost idyllic existence. As the ward of three bohemian artists in turn-of-the-century England, she had grown to be a free thinker in an environment of fertile creativity and cultural sophistication. under their loving private tutelage, Marian had learned to read and translate five languages, and was as literate as any well-bred woman of her era.
But the real core of her education was far outside societal norms. For she and her foster parents were Elemental Masters of magic., and learning to control her growing powers was Marina's primary focus. Each of them commanded the magic of a specific element. Margherita and her brother Thomas were Earth Masters, Sebastian was a Fire Master, and Marina herself was a fledgling Water Master of enormous potential, with a lesser affinity for the element of Air. Marina loved nothing more than to sit by a stream or small waterfall, watching or communing with the lesser Water Elementals, Undines, and Naiads. When she played her lute, harp, or flute, she was sometimes event graced by the presence of Air Elementals, the Sylphs and Zephyrs whom Sebastian had said were her allies, though why she might need allies, Marina had no clue.
Actually, there were quite a few mysteries about her life that Marina wasn't able to solve. Why, for example, had she never seen her parents, or been to Oakhurst, her family's ancestral manor in Devon? Her mother and father assured her fervently, in every letter, that they loved her and longed for her presence, yet if her parents loved her so much, why had they sent her away so young, and why had they never once visited her? And why hadn't her real parents, who were also Earth Masters, trained her themselves? Why did neither her foster parents nor her real parents ever attend the Great Circle of Elemental Masters in London? That there was a secret about all this she had known from the time she had begun to question the world around her. Yet try as she might, she could get no clues out of her guardians and instinct told her that a confrontation would cause great pain to her birth mother.
But Marina would have answers to her questions all too soon.
For with the sudden death of her birth parents while on holiday in Italy, Marina's life was transformed beyond all recognition. Taken from the only home and "parents" she had ever known and brought to the cold and lofty halls of Oakhurst Manor, she met her new guardian -- her closest surviving blood relative -- her father's eldest sister Arachne. Cold, aristocratic, and superior, Aunt Arachne was an industrialist. Her pottery factories brought her a great deal of wealth and power, but Marina sensed that Arachne's real power came from something far different than commerce. For Arachne exuded a dark magical aura unlike anything Marina had encountered, a stifling evil that seemed to threaten Marina's very spirit. Slowly Marina realized that her aunt was the very embodiment of th endanger her parents had been hiding her from in the backwoods of Cornwall. But could Marina unravel the secrets of her life in time to save her from the evil which had been seeking her for nearly eighteen years?
Based loosely on the tale of Puss in Boots, Reserved for the Cat
takes place in 1910 in an alternate London. A young dancer, penniless and desperate, is sure she is going mad when a cat begins talking to her mind-to-mind. But her feline guide, actually an Elemental Earth Spirit, helps her to impersonate a famous Russian ballerina and achieve the success she?s been dreaming of. Unfortunately she also attracts the attention of another Elemental Spirit?a far more threatening one?and the young dancer must once again turn to her mysteriously powerful four-legged furry friend.
In 1910, in an alternate London, a penniless young dancer is visited by a cat who communicates with her mind to mind. Though she is certain she must be going mad, she is desperate enough to follow the cat's advice and impersonates a famous Russian ballerina. The cat, it turns out, is actually an Elemental Earth Spirit, and leads her to minor stardom.
Meanwhile, the real Russian ballerina has fallen victim to an evil troll who takes over her body and kills her patrons, drinking their life essences in order to strengthen his powers. And soon, the troll focuses his dark attentions on the young dancer...
From the magical mysteries of India to the gaslit streets of Victorian London, Mercedes Lackey's unique departure from her Valdemar series follows a young woman doctor as she searches for the secret behind the sorcery in her blood.
Marina is the cherished daughter of the wealthy Saverson family, practitioners of Elemental Magic. But all is not well in this elegant, aristocratic household. Evil portents have warned her father that Marina will be killed before her eighteenth birthdayby the hand of her own aunt. And no one is sure id the family magic is powerful enough to overturn the prophesy.
Set in Victorian London-where magic is real and Elemental Masters control the powers of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth-the fourth novel in this best-selling series tells the story of Lord Alderscroft, Master of the British Elemental Masters Council-the most powerful Fire Master ever to lead the Council. Loosely based on The Snow Queen, The Wizard of London delves into Lord Alderscroft's youth, when he was bespelled by an evil Elemental Master who hoped to use him for political gain.
A brand-new Elemental Masters novel from the national bestselling author Mercedes Lackey.
Richard Whitestone is an Elemental Earth Master. Blaming himself for the death of his beloved wife in childbirth, he has sworn never to set eyes on his daughter, Suzanne. But when he finally sees her, a dark plan takes shape in his twisted mind-to use his daughter's body to bring back the spirit of his long-dead wife.
New in the extraordinary series hailed as “a true frolic into fantasy” (Fantasy Bookspot) by a “Master Magician.” (Midwest Book Review)
In Edwardian Britain, magic is real. And Masters of the Elements control Fire, Water, Air, and Earth...
Mari Prothero has lived all her life with her father, Daffyd, in a tiny fishing village on the coast of Wales. Though Daffyd takes his boat out on the sea regardless of weather, Mari has learned not to fear for his safety, for her father is a Water mage, and always comes home safely with a large catch. Mari knows that in her family, children are expected to marry at eighteen, to an appropriate stranger. However, Mari is a fledgling Water Master with a rebellious nature. She has no intention of agreeing to any arranged marriage. But Mari has yet to learn the truth of the magical heritage that must be protected by these very marriages. For the Protheros are descended from Selkies—magical beings who are able to change from seals to humans—and to continue her line, she must marry a full-blooded Selkie...
More information to be announced soon on this forthcoming title from Penguin USA.
Mari Prothero grew up in a tiny fishing village on the west coast of Wales where she lived alone with her father, Daffyd, a master fisherman. Although the sea had never harmed her father, Mari still worried, for her mother and older brother had been drowned by a rogue wave when she was just an infant. Her father was all she had left, and Mari was not blind to the possibility of losing him.
Mari and her father kept to themselves in their village. It would not be wise to call attention to how much more prosperous the Protheros were than any other fishermans family; Daffyd was out in every storm, pulling in fish where no other man could, and his fish were always the fattest, the tastiest. But their unusual good fortune was not the only reason for their reclusive behavior.
For as long as she could remember, Mari had seen thingsthings that shouldnt, that couldnt be real: tiny manlike creatures that were mischievous and wore only seaweed, and tiny beings that spoke to her kindly but seemed to be made of water. When she was a child, she had asked her father about these creatures, but Daffyd was so upset by these conversations that Mari had given up trying to talk to him.
But on the morning of her eighteenth birthday, her father finally told her the great secret of the Prothero Luck -- and what they must do to keep it. Her mother and brother were not truly dead, but neither were they human. They were shape-shifters of the sea, the half-human, half-seal people known as the Selch, and they had returned to their watery domain. Since ancient times, the Prothero family had kept a covenant with these magical creatures. In exchange for protection on the water, a member of the Prothero family would take a Selch to marry, only to relinquish their spouse and one of their children to the sea after a brief number of years.
Now Maris time had come, and her father told her that she must abide by her familys ancient magical compact, or face dire consequences. But Mari was not without protectors: for the tiny creatures she had seen her whole life, which she now knew were real, counseled her to bargain” with her mothers people. While in faraway London, Lord Alderscroft, the head of the Elemental Masters, was aware that a powerful but untrained Water Master on the far coast of Wales was being threatened by some of the Elemental Elder Spirits, and he had dispatched some very unique champions to come to Maris aid
About the Author
Mercedes Lackey is a full-time writer and has published numerous novels and works of short fiction, including the best-selling Heralds Of Valdemar series. She is also a professional lyricist and a licensed wild bird rehabilitator. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, artist Larry Dixon, and their flock of parrots. She can be found at mercedeslackey.com.