Thursday, December 2, 2021

Book & Audio Review: The Bartered Brides by Mercedes Lackey

The Bartered Brides

Mercedes Lackey
Narrator: Gemma Dawson
Series: Elemental Masters (Book 13)
Publication: Audible Studios (October 16, 2018); DAW (October 16, 2018)
Length: 11 hours and 13 minutes; 320 p.

Description: The thirteenth novel in the magical alternate history Elemental Masters series continues the reimagined adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a richly-detailed alternate Victorian England.

The threat of Moriarty is gone—but so is Sherlock Holmes.

Even as they mourn the loss of their colleague, psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and Elemental Masters John and Mary Watson must be vigilant, for members of Moriarty’s network are still at large. And their troubles are far from over: in a matter of weeks, two headless bodies of young brides wash up in major waterways. A couple who fears for their own recently-wedded daughter hires the group to investigate, but with each new body, the mystery only deepens.

The more bodies emerge, the more the gang suspects that there is dangerous magic at work, and that Moriarty’s associates are somehow involved. But as they race against the clock to uncover the killer, it will take all their talents, Magic, and Psychic Powers—and perhaps some help from a dearly departed friend—to bring the murderer to justice.

My Thoughts: The newspapers are shouting that Sherlock Holmes is dead, and only those closest to him know the truth. But he needs to stay dead in order to track down and eliminate the remaining members of Moriarty's gang. That leaves only the Watsons, Nan, and Sarah to try to deal with Sherlock's usual cases. Right now they have a very difficult one. 

Someone is dumping the headless bodies of young women in the sewer. Each is dressed in what could be a wedding gown. Lestrade is baffled and none of the Watsons or Nan and Sarah's magical or psychical talents are giving them any help in finding out who or why this is happening.

Meanwhile, we know that a Spirit Master named Spencer is the killer. He is a high-up member of Moriarty's gang and has been trying to hold it together. He also managed to grab Moriarty's spirit and confine it in a talisman and now is working very hard to find a new body for him and transfer him from the spirit world back to the physical world.

Spencer is binding these young women to him in a sort of wedding ceremony and using their power to fill batteries he has developed. He needs the power if he is ever to reanimate Moriarty. Spencer is also trying to keep the Watsons out of the way. In fact, he sends a basket of poison fruit along with a compulsion spell in a Snow White attempt to kill Mary Watson after a physical attack on John is unsuccessful because of Nan and Sarah's intervention. Nan and Sarah's birds do manage to foil the attempt on Mary but they are pretending she is dead to give them more working room.

Nan and Sarah learn more about their abilities in this one as they use all their talents to locate Spencer and get rid of him. 

I like the worldbuilding in this story. It is a very well detailed Victorian world that surrounds the various adventures and magical elements. Even some commentary on woman's rights, or rather the lack of them is inserted into this story in a few places and in the person of a spirit named Caro. Gemma Dawson does a great job with the voices and the pacing.

Favorite Quote:
"It might not be a he," Watson reminded her. "Poison is a woman's weapon."

"Don't tell the Borgias that," Nan murmured, then spoke up. "Not true. Poison is the weapon of someone who has no intention of getting caught. And the only reason most poisoners get caught in the first place is because they murder someone close to them."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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