Review of UNNATURAL ISSUE by Mercedes Lackey
DAW, June 2011
Richard Whitestone is shattered when he returns from a mission for the Council, he discovered that his beloved wife has died in childbirth. Whitestone pushes away the child, accusing it of murdering his wife, and retreats to his study, abandoning all an earth mage is supposed to do to help the land. That child, Suzanne, grows up to become a powerful earth mage herself. Taught not by human instructors but by demigod Pan himself, she learns to heal the land, to promote growth... outside the ring of death that her father's diseased magic creates within his home itself... until her father's magic spots her as a physical vessel for her mother's spirit.
When rumors emerge that a necromancer is working his destructive magic, Council water mage Lord Peter Almsley is sent to deal with him. Living with a college friend (and fellow mage), he pretends to be a painter and wanders the downs looking for evidence to support the rumors. When a pretty serving girl shows up on the run, he recognizes powerful magic, and a clue to the nature of the necromancy.
Although Peter, his handsome friend Charles, and Suzanne defeat Richard, he escapes and goes to ground. And when World War I breaks out, Peter and Charles are summoned away to war, and Suzanne volunteers as a nurse. Still, Richard hasn't given up on his plan, and the death and destruction of a horrible war fuel his powers.
Author Mercedes Lackey continues her Elemental Masters series with a strong tale. Suzanne is an intriguing Cinderella, powerful, yet unsophisticated. Peter is a fun foil for her, but Suzanne has her sights set on the handsome Charles. Lackey blends a bit of romance into an exciting fantasy adventure, with us hoping that Suzanne will see through first impressions and realize that Peter really is the better catch. Lackey does a believable job creating a World War I-era world where magic flows along with technology, and where aristocratic society is breathing its last gasps. Lackey's strong writing held me in the story and made me care about the outcome.
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