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The thirteenth novel in the magical alternate history Elemental Masters series continues the reimagined adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a richly-detailed alternate Victorian England. The threat of Moriarty is gone—but so is Sherlock Holmes. Even as they mourn the loss of their colleague, psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and Elemental Masters John and Mary Wats The thirteenth novel in the magical alternate history Elemental Masters series continues the reimagined adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a richly-detailed alternate Victorian England. The threat of Moriarty is gone—but so is Sherlock Holmes. Even as they mourn the loss of their colleague, psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and Elemental Masters John and Mary Watson must be vigilant, for members of Moriarty’s network are still at large. And their troubles are far from over: in a matter of weeks, two headless bodies of young brides wash up in major waterways. A couple who fears for their own recently-wedded daughter hires the group to investigate, but with each new body, the mystery only deepens. The more bodies emerge, the more the gang suspects that there is dangerous magic at work, and that Moriarty’s associates are somehow involved. But as they race against the clock to uncover the killer, it will take all their talents, Magic, and Psychic Powers—and perhaps some help from a dearly departed friend—to bring the murderer to justice.


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The thirteenth novel in the magical alternate history Elemental Masters series continues the reimagined adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a richly-detailed alternate Victorian England. The threat of Moriarty is gone—but so is Sherlock Holmes. Even as they mourn the loss of their colleague, psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and Elemental Masters John and Mary Wats The thirteenth novel in the magical alternate history Elemental Masters series continues the reimagined adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a richly-detailed alternate Victorian England. The threat of Moriarty is gone—but so is Sherlock Holmes. Even as they mourn the loss of their colleague, psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and Elemental Masters John and Mary Watson must be vigilant, for members of Moriarty’s network are still at large. And their troubles are far from over: in a matter of weeks, two headless bodies of young brides wash up in major waterways. A couple who fears for their own recently-wedded daughter hires the group to investigate, but with each new body, the mystery only deepens. The more bodies emerge, the more the gang suspects that there is dangerous magic at work, and that Moriarty’s associates are somehow involved. But as they race against the clock to uncover the killer, it will take all their talents, Magic, and Psychic Powers—and perhaps some help from a dearly departed friend—to bring the murderer to justice.

30 review for The Bartered Brides

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sue Lyssa Stone Shaffer

    Sigh I jump to buy any new Lackey release. But this entry to the world of the Elemental Masters lost me early on. The first books were wonderful, unique and thought-provoking. This volume struggles so to fit the Arthur Conan Doyle model that it took multiple attempts to finish reading it. The best of Lackey is found in her ability to weave heart and hope into facing challenges and mysteries. This is the first volume without heart or hope or wit. I found no humor to hold me, and a lack of growth fo Sigh I jump to buy any new Lackey release. But this entry to the world of the Elemental Masters lost me early on. The first books were wonderful, unique and thought-provoking. This volume struggles so to fit the Arthur Conan Doyle model that it took multiple attempts to finish reading it. The best of Lackey is found in her ability to weave heart and hope into facing challenges and mysteries. This is the first volume without heart or hope or wit. I found no humor to hold me, and a lack of growth for the characters. When it came time to rate the book? I felt 3 stars too generous and 2 stars ungracious to bulk of the body of work. 99% of the books Lackey has published are amazing. Please, don't let this volume steer you away from an amazing author. This book however needs a complete rewrite before it could be considered as running into the Lackey canon. Please, Misty, let go of Holmes and get back to what you do best, Be You.

  2. 4 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Holmsian horror! Lackey's Sherlock Holmes trope with a touch of horror is vastly engaging. Sherlock and Moriaty have perished over Ravensbruck Falls. Elemental masters John and Mary Watson, occultists Nan Killian and Sarah Lyon-White find themselves enmeshed in a struggle with a necromancer who just might have had links to Moriaty's network. Headless bodies are beginning to turn up, dressed in white garments. Brides! But for what purpose? Disturbing developments see the Watson's targeted by the unk Holmsian horror! Lackey's Sherlock Holmes trope with a touch of horror is vastly engaging. Sherlock and Moriaty have perished over Ravensbruck Falls. Elemental masters John and Mary Watson, occultists Nan Killian and Sarah Lyon-White find themselves enmeshed in a struggle with a necromancer who just might have had links to Moriaty's network. Headless bodies are beginning to turn up, dressed in white garments. Brides! But for what purpose? Disturbing developments see the Watson's targeted by the unknown adversary. All must be vigilant as danger looms on all sides. The introduction of the spirit Caro, is an interesting addition to the mix. Sarah and Nan along with their feathered companions, Neville the raven and Grey the African parrot, fierce protectors of the girls in the occult adventures. I initially started reading with a somewhat jaundiced attitude but as the story moved on I became well and truly ensnared in its twists and turns. A NetGalley ARC

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Davie

    Fourteenth in the Elemental Masters historical paranormal fantasy series and revolving around Elementals of Air, Earth, Water, Fire, and Spirit. The focus here is on Nan and Sarah working with Dr Watson and his wife, Mary, and set in June in Victorian London. If you're interested, there is a chronological listing of the Elemental Masters books on my website. My Take Lackey incorporates Sherlock Holmes and his world into that of the occult, using Nan and Sarah as the bridge into her world of magic. Fourteenth in the Elemental Masters historical paranormal fantasy series and revolving around Elementals of Air, Earth, Water, Fire, and Spirit. The focus here is on Nan and Sarah working with Dr Watson and his wife, Mary, and set in June in Victorian London. If you're interested, there is a chronological listing of the Elemental Masters books on my website. My Take Lackey incorporates Sherlock Holmes and his world into that of the occult, using Nan and Sarah as the bridge into her world of magic. I do enjoy Holmes' not quite acceptance of magic, although he does, now, acknowledge that it exists. He simply prefers to ignore it, *laughing*. In The Bartered Brides, Lestrade is desperate for help with the latest murders, but Holmes isn't there to help, and so he turns to Dr Watson and the girls. And it's one pip of a story, as none of them, including the Lodge, can find any trace of where those headless bodies are coming from. I suspect this lack of progress is why I found the story tediously slow — and gave it a "3". It does use a third person global subjective point-of-view, giving the reader access to the thoughts and emotions from the primary perspectives of Nan, Sarah, and Spencer. As you'd suspect, the girls are stalwart and good while Spencer is the epitome of evil. Oh, meow, *laughing*, Lackey gets in her licks about women treated as second-class citizens, as she pokes fun at the traditional men's club with Nan and Sarah thinking of those poor souls acting as window dressing, believing they actually hold the reins of power. Then Caro who desperately wants to be a boy. And in the end, the prejudice against women creates quite the problem for Lord Alderscroft, for the Lodge doesn't allow female members, does allow rogues and ruffians who have magic — and yet England has just acquired a Spirit Master and a Magician. Lackey comes up with an intriguing explanation of the spirit plane and why ghosts linger, using Caro as her "human" interest. I love that the Harton School takes into account how foreign England is to the expatriate children and provides them with the people and foods with which they grew up. The bad guys are truly evil in this with that sociopathic approach to the lives of others, so casual in their destruction. The Story The plan had been to take down Moriarty and all his gang, but now Sherlock Holmes is dead, and it's up to Nan, Sarah, and the Watsons to keep an eye on Moriarty's crew. Little do Lord Alderscroft, the Watsons, or Nan and Sarah know how dangerous his Organization remains, as Spencer is recruiting his brides to bring Moriarty back. A brilliant and evil man who plots to murder John Watson. The Characters Nan Killian, a former street urchin, is a psychometrist with a Celtic Warrior avatar while Sarah Lyon-White is a medium (her parents had been doctors in Africa). Neville is Nan's raven while Grey is Sarah's African parrot, who are Astral Guardians to the girls. Suki is their psychic ward who came to them in A Study in Sable , 11. They live in a flat paid for by Lord Alderscroft who employs them on missions. Sometimes the girls work with the Watsons. When not on a case, Sarah helps spirits move on. Mrs Horace is their landlady who provides meals as well; Mary Ann is her maid of all work. Both girls are protected by Robin Goodefellow, the Oldest Old One in England who has granted them Puck's Blessing ( Home From the Sea , 8). Caroline "Caro" Wells died and her spirit clung to her locket. Her mother, Charlotte, died giving birth to Stephen, her brother. Her father is Brandon Wells, a solicitor. 221 Baker Street is/was... ...Sherlock Holmes' flat and where his partner Dr John Watson and his wife, Mary, live in the flat above, 221C. Both are Elemental Masters, John of water and Mary of air. Mrs Hudson is their landlady and an excellent cook. Mycroft Holmes is Sherlock's older and more intelligent brother...Sherlock claims his brother is the government. The Baker Street Irregulars are aching to help, and young Tommy Wiggins has them coordinating the hunt. The White Lodge, a.k.a., the Hunting Lodge, is… …a ruling magical body based in London with Lord Alderscroft, a.k.a., the The Wizard of London (5) or the Lion, a Fire Master, as its leader. He is also a Member of the House of Lords, the unofficial Minister of Magic to the Crown, and a confidant of the Prime Minister. The Exeter Club, a men-only club, is the Lodge's home. They've only recently allowed women past the public dining rooms. Williams is the doorman. Lily is a maid in Alderscroft's London townhouse. His scullery maid and cook want to learn self-defense from Nan. Charles is the butler. Beatrice Leek is a witch who will tutor Sarah into expanding on her mediumistic gifts. Caprice, a.k.a., Cappy, is her enormous black cat. Alderscroft makes use of some young Lodge members: Eddie is a Fire Magician, Fred is an Air Master, and George is an Air Magician. Inspector Lestrade is desperate for the help of the girls and the Watsons. The Harton School for Expatriate Children is… …a school for both expat children and psychically gifted children. Isabella Harton, a.k.a., Memsa'b, runs it along with Sahib, Frederick Harton. Karamjit, Selim (the strongest magically), and Agansing work at the school teaching self-defense in mental and physical combat. Dilawar is Selim's nephew who is in training with Mustafa and fills in as a driver. Kadar and Taral are nephews of Karamjit and Agansing, respectively. Gupta's wife is a kitchen wizard. The Organization is/was... ...headed up by Professor James Moriarty who died at Reichenbach Falls. Supposedly. A Spirit Master who has embraced the dark side as a necromancer and Moriarty's executioner, Spencer is holding the men together. Mrs Kelly, an Earth magician, is the woman acting as his housekeeper/cook with an amazing ability to lie. Geoff the Elf is Spencer's primary henchman. Tony, Rudolfo, and Michael are an intimidating group of brothers. George is another member of the gang. Mary O'Brien's parents, Ned and Meggie, sell her to Gerald "Jerry" Baker, who is moving to Canada. Her older sister, Sally, had also married a man who going to Australia. Peg had been in service but became pregnant by the master. Xi'er is an ugly Chinese woman carefully prepped by Shen Li. Shen Li is a powerful old Chinese merchant of whom even the Tongs are afraid. Vladimir Volkov, a Russian, is possibly a Fire Mage or even a Master. Old Don will sell anything and anyone. Hugo Werlicke holds evening salons. Quite dull really, but useful for certain genuine occult secrets. Peter Hughs is one of his attendees, a frustrated poet who indulges in opium. Mrs Stately comes to visit the girls. Lee Chin operates an opium den. There are five Elements — Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit, which can interact with all the Elementals as well as human spirits. There are two levels of mastery: magician or Master. Each Element is capable of being used for good or ill. Sylphs are the smallest and most delicate of Air Elementals. Jenny Greenteeth is a nasty Water Elemental who prefers to dwell in polluted waters and preys on children. Maestro Sarasate is likely an Elemental Magician of Spirit who uses music as his medium of interaction. The ill side of Spirit is necromancy, a Master who chooses to dominate spirits. The Cover and Title The cover is a gruesome collage against a burgundy background softened by the pink wedding dress and flowing veil with its crown of flowers worn by the hideous skeleton. In the foreground is a tall rectangular framed picture of Reichenbach Falls while Grey and Neville each hold half of a torn newspaper headline announcing the death of Sherlock Holmes. The author's name is at the very top in an embossed silver outlined in black while the title is at the very bottom in an embossed white also outlined in black. Tucked into the bottom left corner of the picture is the series information. The title refers to the one essential commodity Spencer requires for his plan, The Bartered Brides.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Loosely following events that happened to Holmes, with the addition of Elemental magic to the story, of course. Nan and Sarah are learning more about their skills, and how to put them to use. Grisly murders are happening, and without Holmes to help, they have to try their best at uncovering the truth. Another good installment to the story.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lara

    Once again, we spend a significant portion of the book (at least one-third) in the head of the villain, who's blithely Bluebearding poor young women--one of whom is twelve--to use as magical fuel for his necromancy. Nan and Sarah are still the Best Psychics in London, and Sarah is revealed to be a super-special kind of magician that's ever so rare and with specialized abilities. I think I'm done with this series, at least until it stops being the Nan and Sarah (and Holmes-Adjacent) Adventures.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality The Bartered Brides is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, as was last week’s Mycroft and Sherlock. But in spite of the two stories having more or less the same starting point, the Holmes canon, they couldn’t be any more different in tone or even genre. Mycroft and Sherlock was a fairly straightforward, albeit excellent, historical mystery. The Bartered Brides on the other hand puts Sherlock Holmes in the midst of a Victorian urban fantasy. This is a world in which Originally published at Reading Reality The Bartered Brides is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, as was last week’s Mycroft and Sherlock. But in spite of the two stories having more or less the same starting point, the Holmes canon, they couldn’t be any more different in tone or even genre. Mycroft and Sherlock was a fairly straightforward, albeit excellent, historical mystery. The Bartered Brides on the other hand puts Sherlock Holmes in the midst of a Victorian urban fantasy. This is a world in which magic explicitly works, although most people, including Holmes himself, are at best reluctant to believe in it. Just because Holmes doesn’t believe in magic doesn’t mean that magic doesn’t believe in him. Particularly in the person of Dr. John Watson, Sherlock’s chronicler and partner-in-solving-crime. Because Watson is an Elemental Water Master who solves cases that go where Holmes mostly refuses to tread. Although for a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, Holmes himself is conspicuously absent for most of this story. The Bartered Brides takes place at a well-known point in the official Holmes canon, after the events of Reichenbach Falls, where Holmes and Moriarty both fell to their purported deaths. And before the events of The Empty House where Holmes returns, not from death after all, but from a long sojourn around the world recovering from his wounds and mopping up the remainders of Moriarty’s criminal organization. Unlike in the canon, Watson at least, as well as his wife Mary, know that Holmes is alive and on the hunt. Which means that they are also aware that Moriarty’s henchmen in London might very well be hunting them. But in the meantime, Lestrade is desperate. He does not know that Holmes is still alive. All he knows is that the headless corpses of young women are washing up on the banks of the Thames. He is out of his depth – not atypical for Lestrade. But this case feels weird – and it is – so he calls in his best Holmes substitute, Dr. John Watson and the two young women who assist him with his magical cases, psychic Nan Killian and medium Sarah Lyon-White. When even their best isn’t good enough, they consider dropping the case. Until an emergency meeting with Sherlock’s brother Mycroft, representing Her Majesty’s government and Lord Alderscroft, and leader of London’s Elemental Masters convinces them to stay on the case. They are both certain that this isn’t the usual kind of serial killer at work. Instead, this series of crimes looks like it’s right up the darker alleys of elemental mastery. Alderscroft in particular is beginning to believe that an Elemental Spirit Master has gone to the bad. And if there’s someone in London dabbling in the foul waters of necromancy he needs to get it stopped. Nan and Sarah are also right. It would be too much like a bad farce for there to be both a gang of Moriarty’s henchmen out committing evil AND a gang of necromancer’s assistants out doing evil at the same time – even in a city as big as London. But what could one have to do with the other? Escape Rating B+: This is a fun book and has become a fun series. Originally the Elemental Masters series seemed to revolve around reworkings of classic fairy tales across various points in time where magic users who were masters of their particular elements were part of the reworking of the tales. And some entries in the series were better than others. But a few books ago the author moved from reworking fairy tales to dealing with one legendary character in particular. In A Study in Sable she introduced her own versions of Holmes, Watson and the rest of the Baker Street crew. Sherlock was still very much his extremely rational self, but the Watson of this series is very different. His water mastery makes him much closer to Holmes’ equal, albeit in a different sphere. He also has allies and resources of his own separate from Holmes. This redirection of the series really zings! It can also be read without reading the Elemental Masters series as a whole by starting with either A Study in Sable or an earlier volume which serves as a kind of prequel, The Wizard of London, which introduces the characters of Nan and Sarah as well as Lord Alderscroft, the titular “Wizard”. The criminal conspiracies in this story do reduce to Occam’s Razor. Two separate gangs doing this much damage would be too much. It is a surprise however to see just how the one set of evil relates to the other – and they are both definitely very evil. The truth about the headless corpses and their evil purpose will chill readers right down to the bone. As will the mastermind’s methods of obtaining them, which spotlights just how disposable working class women, especially young women, were at this point in history, as well as just how pervasive racial prejudices were at the time. What makes this subseries so much fun is, of course, the cast of characters. The varying perspectives of this Watson with more agency, his equally powerful wife Mary, and the two young women who are determined to make an independent go of their world lets us see this version of Victorian London from it’s highest pinnacles to very nearly its lowest depths through the eyes of very sympathetic characters. The villain in this case is deliciously and despicably evil, and we are able to see just enough of his horrible machinations to learn what he’s up to and to wholeheartedly concur with him receiving his just desserts. This version of Victorian London is fascinating and magical, in both senses of the word. I hope we have plenty of return visits to look forward to!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anne Morgan

    Returning to the world of Elemental Magicians, psychics, and Sherlock Holmes, The Bartered Brides takes the series to its next logical step: what if Professor Moriarty had a necromancer in his organization and, after Reichenbach Falls, that necromancer tried to bring Moriarty back in a new body? With Holmes in hiding to keep up the presence of being dead so he can track down remaining members of Moriarty's crew, it is up to the Watsons, Nan Killian, Sarah Lyon-White, the parrot Grey and the rave Returning to the world of Elemental Magicians, psychics, and Sherlock Holmes, The Bartered Brides takes the series to its next logical step: what if Professor Moriarty had a necromancer in his organization and, after Reichenbach Falls, that necromancer tried to bring Moriarty back in a new body? With Holmes in hiding to keep up the presence of being dead so he can track down remaining members of Moriarty's crew, it is up to the Watsons, Nan Killian, Sarah Lyon-White, the parrot Grey and the raven Neville to deal with a case Sherlock wouldn't be able to handle anyway. But can they track down the villain who is murdering innocent girls to power seriously dark magic before he can bring the Napoleon of Crime back from the dead? The idea behind The Bartered Brides is a classic, and fits perfectly into Lackey's Elemental/Holmes universe. It also provides a good showcase for John and Mary Watson, who get overshadowed in the more 'traditional' Holmes world. As Elemental Masters, John and Mary have always worked to deal with the cases Holmes couldn't, and to try to provide magical insight when his own cases seemed to need it. Here they are recognized as powerful Masters in their elements, willing to take risks when needed and devoted to hunting down the man responsible for headless corpses turning up in the Thames. Brides in particular also celebrates the close bond between them. While John and Mary shine here, Nan and Sarah- the theoretical heroines of the series- fade a bit. Unless they are using their particular talents (Nan as a mind reader, Sarah a medium) the two girls are pretty interchangeable in Brides. They think the same way, act the same way, plot the same way, and half of the time I could only remember who was who because of the birds. As brave and dedicated as all the heroes were, Brides pretty much stars the necromancer Spencer. Our heroes chase leads and dead ends while Spencer gets all the action. The reader is horrified by what Spencer is doing, and cheers his (eventual) failure, but he is still the stand out in the book. I spent most of the book waiting for something to happen. Which was also what our heroes were doing for most of the book. With what seemed to me a rather uncharacteristically hurried ending, I didn't feel like I got quite the payoff I was hoping for. Unlike Lackey's earlier books (The Black Gryphon for example) Brides spends most of its time wandering. Loosely written, with largely mediocre and forgettable characters (although I greatly enjoyed meeting Caro!), this was not one of Lackey's best efforts. Devoted Mercedes Lackey fans will be willing to spend an afternoon with these familiar characters and in this familiar world, but I wouldn't recommend it as a starting point for those new to the works of a usually stellar author. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    Over the winter holidays I wanted light, happy, triumph-over-evil stories and Lackey is always good for that, so I binged all the available Elemental Masters books. This is a broad review for books 1 to 13. I could see myself really loving this series in my teen years. Every main character is female. It champions women's rights, the poor, the foreign, with realistic history of the hardships and prejudice in Britain in the early 1990s for these folks. It empowers women, especially those who wanted Over the winter holidays I wanted light, happy, triumph-over-evil stories and Lackey is always good for that, so I binged all the available Elemental Masters books. This is a broad review for books 1 to 13. I could see myself really loving this series in my teen years. Every main character is female. It champions women's rights, the poor, the foreign, with realistic history of the hardships and prejudice in Britain in the early 1990s for these folks. It empowers women, especially those who wanted a higher education and more in life than just being property. Every book (except the last few) has a romance but not misogynistic 'saved by a prince' type nor explicitly sexual. If the reader is interested in occult studies there are decent passages on tarot cards, magic theory and symbolism and every book features someone with elemental (earth, air, fire, water) magic powers with corresponding creatures as familiars. The use of fairytale plots is very obvious but nicely refitted to the world of early industrial Europe and strong female protagonists. This plot theme loosens up as the series progresses. As in all good fairy tales there are also adorable talking animals and mysterious Fae. Strangely the last 3 books take a new plot turn borrowing from classic thrillers. It combines Sherlock Holmes characters with repeat protagonists, Psychic Nan Killian and Medium Sarah Lyon-White. Lackey writes a lively, easily read story. The books always end in a positive, triumphant note. The stories are a bit excessively descriptive of everyday activities and banter, which I'll admit just skipping without loosing the plot. Lackey actually describes her own style in a forward to 'From a High Tower' when talking about a book series in Germany popular for 150 years... "Karl May wrote a rattling good story. If he was a “hack,” remember that the definition of a “hack” is this: a strong, dependable horse that can always be relied on to get you where you want to go. There are worse things to be."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mari

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Interesting that ghost Caro who helps them gets body of male. Nice description of a trans character. How are you Like hell, but it’s getting better,” replied Peter Hughs. Or Caro, in Peter Hughs’ body. I have to get used to calling him Peter. Though he seems to be used to it already. Grey nudged his hand, and he continued gently scratching her neck. “It helps that I finally feel right for the first time in my life. I kept saying I should have been born a boy—not only to you two, but to my own fa Interesting that ghost Caro who helps them gets body of male. Nice description of a trans character. How are you Like hell, but it’s getting better,” replied Peter Hughs. Or Caro, in Peter Hughs’ body. I have to get used to calling him Peter. Though he seems to be used to it already. Grey nudged his hand, and he continued gently scratching her neck. “It helps that I finally feel right for the first time in my life. I kept saying I should have been born a boy—not only to you two, but to my own father and brother—and no one took me seriously, but I really did feel . . . wrong, inside my own skin. Now I feel right. As for the rest—” he shrugged. “I may be miserable, I may vomit more than I eat, and I may shake as if I had a fever, but it’s easier than dying was Good description of the old boys club mentality: The appropriate way was to take the servant’s stair—encountering any of the venerable gentlemen who lived here on the guest stair would be worse than the birds saying something. Williams nodded and turned his attention back to his charges. Being here was a continual dance around the tender sensibilities of the old gents, who were encased in stone armor of hardened attitudes which could shatter disastrously at the faintest hint of change. Nan felt sorry for them rather than resentful. They labored under the illusion that they were the strong, stalwart defenders of God and Empire and all that was Good and Noble, when in fact, their rigidity and their age doomed them. With every passing day they grew closer to death, while the reins of power slipped from their fingers and, imperceptibly, the young and flexible took those reins away from them. And the irony was, if they had just been willing to bend and learn and change with the times, those reins would still be theirs, and the “upstarts” would be looking to them as sterling examples

  10. 4 out of 5

    Silvio Curtis

    I've finished my Elemental Masters marathon, and this is sooner than I would have if an interlibrary loan problem wasn't holding up my nonfiction reading plans. This book is so fresh from the press that even though lots of local libraries have it, most of the copies were on loan or else not on the shelves yet. It's a third installment about Nan, Sarah, Holmes, and the Watsons. Holmes has killed his enemy Professor Moriarty but faked his own death so he can more easily deal with the surviving par I've finished my Elemental Masters marathon, and this is sooner than I would have if an interlibrary loan problem wasn't holding up my nonfiction reading plans. This book is so fresh from the press that even though lots of local libraries have it, most of the copies were on loan or else not on the shelves yet. It's a third installment about Nan, Sarah, Holmes, and the Watsons. Holmes has killed his enemy Professor Moriarty but faked his own death so he can more easily deal with the surviving parts of Moriarty's criminal organization, leaving the others to do mostly without him for the time being. That's when the beheaded bodies of young women start turning up in the Thames. Unknown to Nan, Sarah and the Watsons, these are the victims of a necromancer associated with Moriarty. Once again the story tracks both the protagonists and the villain, so that you know a lot more than the characters do. Reasonably suspenseful, though for those of us who aren't familiar with the original Sherlock Holmes it would have made for a nice twist if we hadn't been told so quickly that he wasn't really did. The usual downsides of the series, Eurocentrism and haphazard world-building even within the framework of European magic, unfortunately continue.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lissa Notreallywolf

    Best not to read this novel without it's antecedents, Study in Sable and the Battersea title, not to mention the introductory book, The Wizard of London. I skipped Sable and Battersea to find the two girls nearly grown up, living in their own flat and assisting Sherlock Holmes. This novel was familiar, probably from having read a prior one of this series where a necromancer was the Lodge's enemy, although that one was set in a country estate rather than an East End flat. I'm weary from reading t Best not to read this novel without it's antecedents, Study in Sable and the Battersea title, not to mention the introductory book, The Wizard of London. I skipped Sable and Battersea to find the two girls nearly grown up, living in their own flat and assisting Sherlock Holmes. This novel was familiar, probably from having read a prior one of this series where a necromancer was the Lodge's enemy, although that one was set in a country estate rather than an East End flat. I'm weary from reading this book, because I felt it predictable. Nan and Sarah grow in recognition but not in any way on a personal level. Perhaps I would have felt different if I hadn't jumped ahead in the series, but I am getting tired of zombie wars. Also tired of the fixation on London's sewers in this type of fiction-surely other cities have sewers to explore if that's your thing. Puck's appearence at thhe school is far to brief to provide any relief for the sordid London grit. Sherlock is a minor figure, and I never enjoyed the settings of the Holmes universe. Humph

  12. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    Number 13 of the Elemental Masters series and this one is loosely - very loosely - based on what I believe was Bluebeard's Wives. Once again we have the characters of Nan Killian and Sarah Lyon-White with the birds, Grey and Neville, John and Mary Watson even as they mourn the temporary loss of their friend Sherlock Holmes. Yea, he pops in and out of the book a couple of times as he is busy disrupting and dissolving Moriarty's Organization. There is Suki, Memsa'b and Sahib and the nephews. Even A Number 13 of the Elemental Masters series and this one is loosely - very loosely - based on what I believe was Bluebeard's Wives. Once again we have the characters of Nan Killian and Sarah Lyon-White with the birds, Grey and Neville, John and Mary Watson even as they mourn the temporary loss of their friend Sherlock Holmes. Yea, he pops in and out of the book a couple of times as he is busy disrupting and dissolving Moriarty's Organization. There is Suki, Memsa'b and Sahib and the nephews. Even Aldercroft and some of his rougher Lodge members make a couple of appearances as do some of the Baker Street Irregulars. And of course Lestrade. This one was a bit more gruesome than the previous ones I have read. Let me clarify that Lackey does not write gory. It's the idea of this Master collecting magical power by marrying and then decapitating his brides, keeping their heads while dumping their bodies a la Sweeney Todd fashion is just - blech! A new character in the form of a ghost named Caro who just wants to do something important before passing over is like a breath of fresh air. If the author plans to continue with more stories circling around Nan and Sarah, I hope that Caro continues to be a part of the action. Of course, that just makes more characters to keep track of. As much as I like Nan, Sarah and company, what originally drew me to the series was that it was a retelling of some fairy tales in the Victorian age with the added interest of the elemental masters. Lately it's been the next adventure of Nan and Sarah with the Watson's along for the ride. So if you get the feeling that I'm a bit torn, you would be correct. Lackey had a wonderful idea and fabulous series and I am enjoying every single volume published (some more than others). But she seems to be focusing on the London crew connected to Holmes and it's slightly disappointing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    Bluebeard and Holmes and Magic, Oh My! I thoroughly enjoy Holmesian fiction, so I expected to like this book and I did. Holmes is really least in sight, so Nan, Sarah, and Watson shine in this tale. And Lestrade? My favorite quotation was about him: Sarah had thought Lestrade couldn’t get any redder. She had been wrong. He turned from the color of a strawberry to the color of a beet. So with all this going for it, why was I not totally thrilled with the book? I think the gruesomeness of the murde Bluebeard and Holmes and Magic, Oh My! I thoroughly enjoy Holmesian fiction, so I expected to like this book and I did. Holmes is really least in sight, so Nan, Sarah, and Watson shine in this tale. And Lestrade? My favorite quotation was about him: Sarah had thought Lestrade couldn’t get any redder. She had been wrong. He turned from the color of a strawberry to the color of a beet. So with all this going for it, why was I not totally thrilled with the book? I think the gruesomeness of the murders got to me. And for the first time that I can remember Mercedes Lackey has put an easily recognizable political figure in the book and done it in a highly uncomplimentary fashion. I read fantasy to escape from some of the unpleasantness in real life and don't enjoy real life rearing its ugly head so obviously. Fans of the series will most likely enjoy the book as will those who enjoyed the earlier Holmes books in the series.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jo (Mixed Book Bag)

    This is another series that plays on the Sherlock Homes character. Here he is missing and psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and Elemental Masters John and Mary Watson have to solve a new mystery. At first there are just the headless bodies and no clue as to where they came from or why they are missing their heads. This is the first book of the series I have read but at no time did I feel lost. Lackey is a master at giving clues to the backstory in small easy to find snippets usually This is another series that plays on the Sherlock Homes character. Here he is missing and psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and Elemental Masters John and Mary Watson have to solve a new mystery. At first there are just the headless bodies and no clue as to where they came from or why they are missing their heads. This is the first book of the series I have read but at no time did I feel lost. Lackey is a master at giving clues to the backstory in small easy to find snippets usually in dialog. I loved the strong women and how one because what she felt she had always should have been. Great story with all the tension expected and with some interesting twists and turns. Of course Sherlock did make two small solo appearances. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    annapi

    Moriarty and Sherlock are gone, but Moriarty's cohorts are still at large. Though Nan, Sarah, and the Watsons have received a mysterious note that leads them to believe Sherlock might still be alive, he remains in hiding and it is Watson that Lestrade approaches when headless bodies of young girls are found in the Thames. I don't care if this is formulaic, I still enjoy the characters. I love that John and Mary Watson are Elemental Masters of water and air, while Sherlock refuses to believe in m Moriarty and Sherlock are gone, but Moriarty's cohorts are still at large. Though Nan, Sarah, and the Watsons have received a mysterious note that leads them to believe Sherlock might still be alive, he remains in hiding and it is Watson that Lestrade approaches when headless bodies of young girls are found in the Thames. I don't care if this is formulaic, I still enjoy the characters. I love that John and Mary Watson are Elemental Masters of water and air, while Sherlock refuses to believe in magic. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the author ups the ante on Sarah's and Nan's abilities, just in time to use them to defeat their latest enemy - it's part of the formula and she tells a good story so I'm happy to go along with it. I did enjoy the slight twist in the end, it was something I didn't expect. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Ah, what a delight it always is to read the newest installment of the Elemental Masters series from Mercedes Lackey! The book jacket proclaims that this is the book in which Sherlock Holmes & Professor Moriarty have gone over Reichenbach Falls to their deaths. So, this is the book where the game is surely afoot but John & Mary Watson, Sarah and Nan, and Lord Alderscroft are on their own trying to hunt down & stop a serial killer while mourning their dear friend and colleague Sherlock Ah, what a delight it always is to read the newest installment of the Elemental Masters series from Mercedes Lackey! The book jacket proclaims that this is the book in which Sherlock Holmes & Professor Moriarty have gone over Reichenbach Falls to their deaths. So, this is the book where the game is surely afoot but John & Mary Watson, Sarah and Nan, and Lord Alderscroft are on their own trying to hunt down & stop a serial killer while mourning their dear friend and colleague Sherlock Holmes. It will take all of their magical and psychic wits/powers if they are to pull this off and stop this murderer before he kills again! Highly recommended as a most enjoyable read to all alternate history urban fantasy Elementary Masters fans!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Katie Whitt

    3.5 stars. This pains me to write but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I’d hoped. My main problem with the books featuring Sherlock is that there really isn’t enough Sherlock and in the beginning of this one he literally leaves to go do off screen work and then reappears at the end. There was so little Sherlock! Plus the narrative device of spending so much time with the villain means that the scenes with our heroes is just them playing catch up to information the reader already has. Also, the 3.5 stars. This pains me to write but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I’d hoped. My main problem with the books featuring Sherlock is that there really isn’t enough Sherlock and in the beginning of this one he literally leaves to go do off screen work and then reappears at the end. There was so little Sherlock! Plus the narrative device of spending so much time with the villain means that the scenes with our heroes is just them playing catch up to information the reader already has. Also, the villains are just so icky in these books and the necromancer was such a terrible person that I couldn’t wait to get back to the other perspective. I’ll still keep reading/buying these but hopefully they pick back up again!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tina Gunther

    Further Adventures of Holmes, Watson, Nan and Sarah What if Sherlock Holmes had been confronted with events for which he could find no possible explanation than what he considered to be impossible? What would it take to force him to broaden his views to include the fact that magic existed and that some talented people could use it? That is the premise of The Bartered Brides, the latest addition to the author's Elemental Masters series. Fans of Sarah, Nan, Puck and the Elemental Masters should find Further Adventures of Holmes, Watson, Nan and Sarah What if Sherlock Holmes had been confronted with events for which he could find no possible explanation than what he considered to be impossible? What would it take to force him to broaden his views to include the fact that magic existed and that some talented people could use it? That is the premise of The Bartered Brides, the latest addition to the author's Elemental Masters series. Fans of Sarah, Nan, Puck and the Elemental Masters should find this story delightful. Some fans of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson will be outraged. Some will be intrigued.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Arliegh Kovacs

    I would recommend reading some of the previous books in the Elemental Masters series. The Wizard of London, A Study in Sable,and A Scandal in Battersea would make this one more understandable, in my opinion, as they have much of the backstory. Spoiler Alert: This one involves a (supposedly) dead Sherlock Holmes, John & Mary Watson, Lord Alderscroft, and Nan, Sarah & their birds. They are pitted against an evil necromancer... and the ghost of Moriarty. While I have enjoyed others in this I would recommend reading some of the previous books in the Elemental Masters series. The Wizard of London, A Study in Sable,and A Scandal in Battersea would make this one more understandable, in my opinion, as they have much of the backstory. Spoiler Alert: This one involves a (supposedly) dead Sherlock Holmes, John & Mary Watson, Lord Alderscroft, and Nan, Sarah & their birds. They are pitted against an evil necromancer... and the ghost of Moriarty. While I have enjoyed others in this series more, this one shows maturing talents in Nan and Sarah. They are finding their true places in the world of Elemental Mastery. The denoument was over quickly but there were some surprises at the end.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Susan Dunn

    I love this series and preorder every new book as soon as it’s available. This book read just as well as always in most respects. I do not feel that the focus on Nan, Sarah, the Watsons (the Holmes factor) is working. I understand the need to branch out from the traditional British base, and the Black Forest books (Blood Red and From a Dark Tower) were fantastic. I hope we can give the Holmes/Watson storyline a rest for a while and take a diversion to one of the other lodges. I’m convinced someth I love this series and preorder every new book as soon as it’s available. This book read just as well as always in most respects. I do not feel that the focus on Nan, Sarah, the Watsons (the Holmes factor) is working. I understand the need to branch out from the traditional British base, and the Black Forest books (Blood Red and From a Dark Tower) were fantastic. I hope we can give the Holmes/Watson storyline a rest for a while and take a diversion to one of the other lodges. I’m convinced something great could come out of a lodge in Paris, Oslo or Moscow for a change. Please?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    Finally this book starts to feel like Mrs. Lackey’s earlier Elemental Masters Novels. The last few books have revolved too heavily around the Sherlock Holmes plot and has almost completely let out the magic. The relationship between the elementals and mage are what made these books so special.I’m glad to see it finally returned to the series. Hopefully this book is a start in a new and fresh direction in this series.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia Rodriguez

    This story picks up shortly after Sherlock Holmes death. Inspector Lestrade seeks out: Nan Killian and her partner Sarah Lyon-White to assist when the bodies of several headless girls are drawn out of the river. The story incorporates Doyle's error in his early serials: the fact of Doctor Watson having two wives. Lackey also draws some inspiration from the gruesome fairy tale: Bluebeard. A good mystery that also has elements of fantasy.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    Fascinating story I’m so glad that Mercedes Lackey keeps writing this Elemental deities! Each book is so different, yet each is so good. I love the involvement of Sherlock, Watson and Mary! Most especially Mary. Girl power is a super fun aspect of these books. I’ve loved watching NaN grow up and develop - Sarah has been almost as much fun as Nan. Now if only I could learn the cool Fighting techniques and sleuthing they know! Already looking forward to the next book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    MAB LongBeach

    Sherlock Holmes has been reported killed, although a few associates know better. Unfortunately, there is a necromancer in London. The Watsons and psychics Sarah and Nan are called in when the headless bodies of young women start turning up, but they do not have anything like Holmes's expertise. But they do have other skills.... Not as good as the rest of Lackey's Elemental Masters series, but not awful. Fans will want to read this.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe

    Lackey's engaging Elemental Masters series is always a treat and book 13 takes loyal readers to the heart of Victorian England, where Nan, Sarah, John, and Mary are on the trail of a necromancer. Headless girls in white keep turning up in the river, baffling police, and there is no Sherlock Holmes to call on--he and Moriarty, locked in their final conflict, have tumbled over Reichenbach Falls. Horror and fantasy combine to give the usual entertaining read. Older teen, adult.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lynda

    The girls, their bird companions, and the Watsons help Lestrade discover where headless female bodies are coming from while dealing with the loss of their friend Sherlock. Always a joy to read a new book in this series, I love getting to see familiar characters grow into the people they will become.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Janika

    I'm not sure if I just wasn't in the right mood or something, but this left me really cold and pretty uninterested. Otherwise I probably would have finished it in one sitting not three, given it's not a long book... I just really didn't engage with the story/characters this time, apart from maybe one of the victims. And that was very early in the story so the rest was kind of just bland...

  28. 4 out of 5

    James

    Sherlock makes a couple of brief appearances, but they have no effect on the story. The Watsons and the psychics Killian and Lyon-White track down a very nasty necromancer that tricks girls into marrying him to be never parted and then cuts off their heads! A bit gross in spots, it does involve the London sewers after all. A decent read, Holmes could have been left out, which is a good thing.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nancy McPherson

    Delightful blending of Lackey's Elemental Masters and Doyle's Sherlock Holmes tales. Holmes is supposed to be dead and so is Moriarty, but Moriarty's spirit lives on and a powerful necromancer is working to give that spirit a new body. Meanwhile Holmes, the Watsons, and Lackey's other characters from her Elemental Masters series are trying to clean up the rest of Moriarty's Organization.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    Well there was a lot of good story going on until right at the end. The end felt rushed. It only had the one view point and it seemed odd that we didn’t get the necromancers view. Otherwise the story was good and kept me reading.

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