Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Book & Audio Review: The Case of the Spellbound Child by Mercedes Lackey

The Case of the Spellbound Child

Mercedes Lackey
Narrator: Gemma Dawson
Series: Elemental Masters (Book 14)
Publication: Audible Studios (July 13, 2021); DAW (December 3, 2019)
Length: 11 hours and 28 minutes; 319 p.

Description: The fourteenth novel in the magical alternate history Elemental Masters series continues the reimagined adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a richly-detailed alternate 20th-century England.

While Sherlock is still officially dead, John and Mary Watson and Nan Killian and Sarah Lyon-White are taking up some of his case-load--and some for Lord Alderscroft, the Wizard of London.

Lord Alderscroft asks them to go to Dartmoor to track down a rumor of evil magic brewing there. Not more than four hours later, a poor cottager, also from Dartmoor, arrives seeking their help. His wife, in a fit of rage over the children spilling and spoiling their only food for dinner that night, sent them out on the moors to forage for something to eat. This is not the first time she has done this, and the children are moor-wise and unlikely to get into difficulties. But this time they did not come back, and in fact, their tracks abruptly stopped "as if them Pharisees took'd 'em." The man begs them to come help.

They would have said no, but there's the assignment for Alderscroft. Why not kill two birds with one stone?

But the deadly bogs are not the only mires on Dartmoor.

My Thoughts: The next case for Dr. John Watson, his wife Mary, and Nan, Sarah, and Suki starts with a letter sent to the deceased Sherlock Holmes begging for help in finding two children lost on the moors of Dartmoor. Since the letter bears traces of Earth magic, they are eager to help but not sure what they can actually do.

Lord Alderscroft sends the group to Dartmoor when it is learned that an unusual number of children have disappeared in the area of Yelverton over the preceding four years. They also learn that Sherlock Holmes is investigating a case of his own in the area. It seems the women are being raped and robbed under some sort of magical compulsion. 

A good part of the story is told from the viewpoint of the missing children who are captured by someone they call the Dark One who has imprisoned them and steals their magic from them. One of the two missing children mentioned in the letter - Helen Byerly - has no magical ability though her brother Simon does. Helen has the tip of her finger chopped off and buried under the hearthstone and finds herself as a servant for the evil magician unable to leave the grounds of his house. 

While working as his servant, she is able to better the lot of the other prisoners and is finally able to dig up her missing finger and escape during one of the evil magician's absences. However, she manages to get herself lost on the moors and almost dies of pneumonia despite being found by one of the local witches. 

Meanwhile, the Watson group is doing all they can to explore the area and locate the missing children by tracking down every possible rumor and checking every possible location using all of their various abilities. 

This was another excellent adventure in the Elemental Masters series. Gemma Doyle did a great job with all the various voices and the dialects. The worldbuilding was excellent and the characters interesting. 

Favorite Quote:
"You're uncommonly interested in the matters of mortals today, Robin," Nan observed.

Puck rubbed the side of his nose reflectively. "There's a change in the wind," was all he said. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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