Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Unnatural Issue - Mercedes Lackey

Unnatural Issue
Mercedes Lackey
Daw Books
Copyright Date: June 7, 2011

The product description:
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.
I have to say, having read Unnatural Issue now, that I think it's one of the best of the Elemental Masters series. It took a few chapters for me to get into it, but by the time I was half way through, I couldn't put the book down any more and raced through to the ending late last night.

What the blurb doesn't say is that Unnatural Issue is set during the run-up to the First World War, and those first months. There was a passage nearer the end of the book that really struck me as I read it last night:
Women-women knew war better. War might be necessary sometimes, she couldn't judge that, but it was never, ever glorious. It was a terrible monster, that took men and chewed them up and spit out the dead, the dying, and the maimed. War was a beast that murdered as many innocent people who were just in the way as it did soldiers. (Unnatural Issue, page 322)
On as somewhat lighter note, one of the things I really enjoyed about this latest Elemental Masters novel was seeing some of the characters from the previous books again. Peter and Maya Scott, for example from The Serpent's Shadow, mentions of the Tarrants from The Gates of Sleep and also the school set up at the end of The Wizard of London.

I know that Mercedes Lackey likes using fairy tales as a basis for some of her novels - the Five Hundred Kingdoms series and also some of these books too. In this case though, I didn't recognize one right off. Maybe I'm not familiar enough with fairy-tales these days though. Did you identify any fairy-tale motifs or themes in this one?

Either way, this is a book that I quite enjoyed, and I'll probably end up buying it when it comes out in paperback in a few more months. In the mean time, I was able to borrow it from the library.

Definitely a book I'll recommend!


Anonymous said...

The fairy tale that Mercedes used as a jumping off point for this story is "Donkeyskin". This is one of the darkest fairy tales out there, and you'll often see it altered so that the King (father-figure) is going to marry his daughter to a monster or ogre. Robin McKinley does a version she calls "Deerskin", which I highly recommend.

Unknown said...

Thank you. I don't know that I've ever heard of/read that tale. I have heard of Robin McKinley's "Deerskin" though, but I don't think I've read it.

Something to look out for though. Thank you again.


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