Every time I start a new book in Merecedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series, it feels like someone’s giving me a great big hug. It feels like coming home, I swear. She has such a distinct yet elegant writing style that means I almost don’t want to continue reading because I know it has to come to an end eventually.
Plot summary – Richard Whitestone is an Elemental Earth Master. Blaming himself for the death of his beloved wife during childbirth, he has sworn never to set eyes on his daughter, Susanne. But when he finally sees her, a dark plan takes shape in his twisted mind- to use his daughter’s body to bring back the spirit of his long-dead wife.
That summary doesn’t do Unnatural Issue any justice in the slightest, but then again the actual blurb takes up both sides of the dustjacket, so perhaps brevity is better in this case. The point is, the actual plot is much more complicated and interesting than that. Think necromancy, romance, revenants, magic… It just does not get any better than this.
This is the seventh book in the Elemental Masters series, although they really don’t need to be read in any particular order. It revolves around a small group of early 20th Century magicians who each deal with the magic and creatures of any particular element – Earth, Fire, etc. Not only that, but each book takes a fairy tale and intertwines that story into its pages. The Fire Rose was Cinderella, Phoenix & Ashes was Cinderella, and finally, at a bit more of a stretch, Unnatural Issue is Pygmalion. Apparently. I don’t really see it, but hey ho.
What is interesting is an American’s view on how we in Yorkshire speak. Except…not. We talk, apparently, much like pirates. One day I’ll do a vlog on how to talk like an actual live Yorkshire person, but until that point please dear God do not use this book as a reference! It was slightly strange (and a little annoying) how sometimes the characters would speak in an accent and sometimes they wouldn’t. I know they put on an accent to disguise themselves sometimes, I’m not an idiot, but I mean other than that. A little more consistency would have been nice. YAARRRR.
Still, I can deal with an annoying accent here and there if I get to read an Elemental Masters book! This isn’t the best of the series, but it’s still absolutely wonderful. The main premise could use a little tweaking as it seems a little unrealistic that her father would hate Susanne quite that much, but hey – fiction.
I think the reason I like these books so much is the perfect blend of historical fiction and adult fantasy. There’s no out of place 20th Century woman saying “Cool guys!” or anything equally teeth-clenching. Ms Lackey clearly does her research thoroughly for every book (aside from on the Yorkshire accent perhaps). This book is set slightly later than the others as it’s during the First World War and it actually does get slightly distracted from the main plot because of it, but not too much.
The romance isn’t amazing – it’s not bad bad, but Susanne does switch allegiance a little too quickly. It’s not a huge part of the book at all though, as thankfully, like in most of Mercedes Lackey’s books, it’s only a small sub-plot carrying on quietly in the background.
I genuinely can’t recommend this books highly enough – they’re what I read when I don’t want to read (I said that out loud once and a friend replied “Why don’t you just NOT read!?” … Huh.) because they’re so easy to get into and the prose is just so elegant.