[Book Review] A Study in Sable

A Study in Sable (Elemental Masters) / Mercedes Lackey (Powell's Books)

A Study in Sable takes us to cusp-of-the-century London and into the world of Sherlock Holmes.  Our protagonists are the increasingly favored Nan and Sarah, not magicians/elemental masters, but with powers in their own right that prove invaluable.  As one would expect, Sherlock is not inclined to believe in magic, but would be a fool to turn his nose up at clear results.  Watson, on the other hand, is written as a Water Master, with his wife Mary as an Air Master.  The pivotal case for all parties revolves around a hugely successful opera singer, and her oddly missing sister.

I have a sneaking suspicion that devout fans of Sherlock Holmes will not appreciate this interpretation of the famous detective.  I've never actually read any of the stories, not being one with a significant interest in mysteries as a genre.

My personal preference with the Elemental Masters series are the novels that reinterpret fables and fairy tales.  This one pulls some on knowledge of mythical creatures, but between the return of now regular characters of Nan, Sarah, and their birds, plus the addition of Holmes and Watson, there's little room for a fairy tale.  Perhaps because of Nan, Sarah, and the disconnect from fairy tale re-imaginings, A Study in Sable contains none of the typical light romance that one might expect of the series.

I enjoyed the role of music, as well as the obfuscation of the true roles and natures of key parties, to the point of honest surprise at one of the reveals.  We also get an expansion of mythos, bringing into the story different schools and sources of magic.  I also quite enjoyed the insight to some of the less high fashion aspects of 1890's fashion, curiosity leading me to look into exactly what was meant by such garments as a "Rational Dress."

A good continuation of Nan's and Sarah's story.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of DAW (Penguin RandomHouse) in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.

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