Friday, June 17, 2016

A study in sable by Mercedes Lackey

Nan Killian and Sarah Lyon-White are good friends who just happen to share complimentary psychic gifts.  They are more like sisters than friends, and since they left their school days behind they have enjoyed the patronage of Lord Alderscroft which has made their lives stable and comfortable.  With their bird companions, Grey the parrot and Neville the raven, and their little ward Suki they live lives that are anything but conventional.  When they are called upon to work with the residents of 221 Baker Street it is not the famous detective that they work with, but rather the good Doctor Watson and his wife Mary who both happen to be elemental masters.  Nan and Sarah are uniquyely skilled and qualified to help the couple with any number of tasks, and between Lord Alderscroft and the work of the White Lodge, there are a great many tasks to be completed.  There are also the cases that Holmes dismisses as nonsense that the Watsons know are real and could use the talents that Nan and Sarah have been cultivating since they were children.

Despite his skepticism about the existence of magic and psychic powers Sherlock Holmes does indeed involve the girls in his case - the mysterious disappearance of the sister of a German opera singer who appears to have abandoned her fiancee to run away with a Canadian.  The case is made more intriguing by the lack of emotion from the grieving parents and fiancee when they arrive in London and talk to Holmes directly.  When Sarah is called upon to help the missing girls sister she thinks it will be a simple case of reassuring the woman, but instead she finds a sea of ghosts intent on haunting the opera star.  As Sarah works to free the diva from the spirits that surround her it drives a wedge between her and Nan - who can only watch as her friend drifts fruther away in body and in spirit.  The diva seems determined to keep Sarah close and while Sarah doesn't seem to mind, those closest to her are determined to uncover the diva's secret.

A study in sable is the latest book in the Elemental Masters series and focuses on two characters that have until now been mainly bit characters in other books - including Home from the sea.  Nan and Sarah are interesting characters because they are not elemental masters but are instead gifted with talents around ghosts and the past.  It did take a little while to settle into the story, mainly because I had to dredge through my memory to remember Nan and Sarah, but also because Lackey took the rather interesting gambit of introducing Sherlock Holmes and his world to the story.  I have never read Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, although I have read some of the more modern interpretations and it was a shock and then a pleasant surprise to see him and his compatriots appear in this series.  Overall, this was a pleasant read and a good addition to the series, although like Home from the sea I could not place a fairy tale or traditional story that might be the source material for A study in sable.  

For the purists out there who enjoy the fractured fairy tale element of this series this is one of the books in the series that might be less appealing, but it did add some new aspects of mythology to the series and essentially creates a spin off for the series that focuses on Nan and Sarah.  It will be interesting to see if we get more of the story of Nan, Sarah, and Suki - and if Sherlock Holmes and the Watson's make more of an appearance in the future.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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