study-in-sableI was excited by both the return of Nan and Sarah in Lackey’s Elemental Masters series and the introduction of this universe’s version of Sherlock Holmes and the Watsons. The aspect of this novel that I was most impressed with was that my brain never once tried to “cast” my mental images of the characters as Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Robert Downey Jr., or Jude Law. Lackey made these characters totally her own while staying true to the spirit of Arthur Conan Doyle’s creations.

Lackey also continues to buck the “romance” trend with the latter installments of this historical urban fantasy series. I appreciated that the major character  conflict between Nan and Sarah was in regards to a client rather than over the affections of a suitor. As these characters age, I would not be adverse to seeing one or both of them with a happily ever after of her own, but I do hope Lackey does not make that a rift in the strong female friendship between the two women.

Lackey keeps teasing me with more hints about Nan’s abilities, and one day I hope we’ll get to learn the full story(ies) behind her other-wordly psychic projection/bodyguard. I’m worried that we’ve explored Sarah’s mediumistic abilities to their full extent in this novel, so perhaps that will be the subject of a future tale.

Despite the introduction of the familiar Sherlockian characters, the opening act of the novel dragged. I was much more interested once Sarah was hired by the opera singer, kicking off the ensuing conflict with Nan.

This continues to be a solid series, and I’m already looking forward to which fairy tale or familiar story Lackey will bend next year. While I did not mind the return to England for this story with its familiar characters, I hope she continues to branch away from such a much-used setting. There is so much more of Europe, and perhaps beyond, to mine for fairy tales to twist.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Currently reading: Home Birth (Kaiju Revisited #2) by Jessica McHugh

Currently writing: 77,561/90k words

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