Saturday, November 8, 2014

The serpent's shadow by Mercedes Lackey

Maya Witherspoon has moved to London from her home in India under a double burden, she has the nerve the practice medicine in a male dominated profession, and she has the misfortune of being half-caste - fitting neither in the world of her mothers people nor the world of her father.  Determined to make her way in the world Maya has a carefully calculated plan to ensure she can make her way as a doctor and surgeon, but that plan will bring her into contact with some very unpleasant individuals who belief the place of a woman is in the home, not as a practicing doctor.  

Despite the odds Maya secures her place as both doctor and surgeon, but securing her licence to practice medicine in London is just the start of her trials and tribulations as she faces the professional challenges seemingly around every corner.  Professional challenges aside, Maya also faces a more personal challenge in the form of the aunt that she never knew existed, the aunt that wants Maya dead.  Shivani is determined to claim Maya and the power she holds for her goddess Kali Durga, power that she feels the English stole from her family and her goddess.  

Maya has moved half way across the world to protect her household of servants who are more like family than employees, and the pets that passed to her from her mother.  Trying to staying unnoticed when you are brimming full of magic is a challenge, especially when you are untrained, and her magic some attracts the attention of Peter and his colleagues.  Maya is fighting a war that she is ill equipped to win - she lacks the power in the real world, and she is only just learning the skills of the magical world.  It is a race against time, but Maya will soon discover that she has some unexpected allies on her side.

The serpent's shadow is one of my favourite books in the Elemental masters series and it was a real pleasure to return to Maya and her world at a time when I have picked up and discarded at least half a dozen books in a matter of days.  As with the rest of the Elemental masters series The serpent's shadow takes a fairy tale and brings it forward into a new era and with a new twist (you may never look at Snow White and the seven dwarfs the same).  For me Mercedes Lackey really nailed the re-telling of Snow White, keeping the promise of danger and treachery, along with the concern and care of the seven dwarfs (in this case animals).  

The background information that fleshes out Maya's world is also intriguing, she is in London during the time of suffragettes and their marches - including young women force fed because of hunger strikes.  This wealth of background information forms a completely convincing backdrop for the story, the perfect stage on which the characters can play out their parts.  There was a lot of authenticity in the relationships between the characters too, the recognition of class and what it truly means to be the poorest of the poor or the richest of the rich.  

I just adored re-reading The serpent's shadow, not only for the return to an old friend and her story, but also for the "reset" on my reading so I can try some of the books waiting to be read on my shelf.  Not all of the book in this series are to the same high standard as The serpent's shadow, but there is a lot to like about this series.

If you like this book then try:
  • The Fire rose by Mercedes Lackey
  • Home from the sea by Mercedes Lackey
  • Reserved for the cat by Mercedes Lackey
  • Steadfast by Mercedes Lackey
  • Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey
  • Firebird by Mercedes Lackey
  • Deerskin by Robin McKinley
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley
  • Rose daughter by Robin McKinley
  • Spindle's end by Robin McKinley
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Reviewed by Brilla

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