Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Book Review: Unnatural Issue by Mercedes Lackey

Unnatural Issue

Mercedes Lackey
Series: Elemental Masters (Book 6)
Publication: DAW (June 7, 2011)

Description: The sixth novel in Mercedes Lackey's magical Elemental Masters series reimagines the fairy tale Donkeyskin in a richly-detailed alternate Victorian England

Susanne Whitestone, an Earth Master magician, had always lived in Whitestone Manor and liked nothing more than to keep the land itself and its animal inhabitants thriving. For the last eleven years, she has had a special teacher in the forest—a powerful fae known only as Robin. Susanne, at twenty-one, doubted any mortal Earth Master could find fault with the practices that Robin taught her.

But though Susanne was her father’s only child, she had never set eyes on him, for Richard Whitestone lived as a recluse in a sectioned off wing of the manor. Richard Whitestone was also an Earth Master, but since his beloved wife’s death in childbirth, he had lived a kind of half-life. He hated even the thought of the child who had ended his wife’s life. His own life had withered, and as he had grown bitter, and blighted, so had everything he could see from his windows—the once-beautiful private garden was  now as stark and wizened as his heart.

But as the years passed, Richard found that there was one thing that gave him solace—the thought, an obsession, that he could bring his Rebecca back to life through necromancy. He would need an appropriate vessel for her spirit, a young woman, preferably one who looked like she did and was approximately the same age that Rebecca has been at the time of her death—twenty-one....and Susanne was the image of her mother.

My Thoughts: This historical fantasy is set around the beginning of World War I in England. Susanne Whitestone is the long neglected daughter or Earth Master Richard Whitestone. He was off doing a job for Lord Alderscroft when his beloved wife went into premature labor and died. He blamed Susanne for murdering her and ignored her. 

Susanne was raised by the servants who became her only family. When she came into her own magic as a child, she went into the woods and demanded a friend and a teacher. What she got was Robin Goodfellow - one of the oldest of the Old Fae. He became her friend and taught her and, as she grew, she became the Earth Master of her father's lands while her father nourished his obsession to reclaim his wife by studying forbidden and dangerous necromancy.

Meanwhile in London, Lord Alderscroft has heard rumors of a necromancer in Yorkshire and has sent one of his agents - Lord Peter Almsley - who is a Water Master to find the necromancer and take care of the problem.

When Richard decides to remove his daughter's soul and replace it with his wife's and Susanne finds out about it, she flees. After a three-day flight across the moors, she finds herself at the same estate where Lord Peter is staying, an estate filled with people from the masters to the servants who all have some magic. Susanne finds a comfortable home there and develops a crush on the son of the house, but her father isn't just going to let her go.

The story is filled with the horrors of World War I since Susanne flees to the continent and finds herself working as a nursing sister in order to stay close to her crush. And the badly damaged land and many deaths make the battlefields a perfect location for a necromancer who wants revenge and still wants Susanne. 

I really liked this story. I thought the world building was great. I liked the way the Elementals fit into the story. I liked Susanne who was determined to have a life of her own and who has great courage. I liked Lord Peter who develops his own love for Susanne. 

This is the sixth book in the Elemental Masters series, but I didn't have any problem getting into the world created. I did read the earlier books years ago and am now tempted to reread them. I read from both a print book which I bought in 2012 and a newly purchased audiobook.

Favorite Quote:
So she took an apple and bread and cheese in her pockets, waited until no one was watching her, and walked quite calmly out of the gardens to the green trees she could see. There she had demanded, wordlessly, but firmly, that someone come to keep her company. Someone nice. Someone who knew things. Someone who could explain these wonderful new sensations she was having.

She got Robin, who was quite as surprised as she was.

Suiting his form to hers, he had appeared as a child rather than an adult. She had intrigued him no end--and the Fae were always attracted to mortal children.
I bought this one March 29, 2012. You can buy your copy here.

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