I’m not going to lie. I significantly prefer the fairy tale retellings in this fantasy series to the Sherlock Holmes pastiches featuring Nan and Sara. I didn’t dislike this book, but I found myself not as invested in the main characters as I could have been. Both women gain new skills and mastery over their abilities, but that is the extent of the character development for them.
Things I did thoroughly enjoy about this book include the expansion of the magical system Lackey has created. I spotted some influence from previous projects here, and it works very well. There is also some subtle but amazing representation featuring one of the secondary characters that I literally cheered for during the final reveal. I also appreciate how Nan, Sara, and the Watsons employ era-appropriate (non-magical) crime-solving skills to search out the identity and motives of the villain.
Speaking of the bad guy, however, we spent way too much time with him. He’s not a sympathetic character and while all of the information and his experience were useful to the tale, I found those sections dragging. My final critique is the noticeable consistency issues surrounding some of the secondary characters that a more thorough edit might have caught.
Worth reading for fans of the series, but not a good place to jump into the middle. I hope the next Elemental Masters installment takes a break from Sherlock Holmes’ London and gives me another unique fairy tale to sink my teeth into.