Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was in downtown Seattle with visiting family and walked by the former location of the Seattle Mystery Bookshop, which closed a little over a year ago after 27 years of helping readers find great mysteries. If you understand my sadness at that empty storefront, then you probably also understand my joy when I saw on Facebook that Amber had posted a new recommendation on the store’s Facebook page. Consider this an early holiday gift! –Tegan
Mercedes Lackey – The Bartered Brides
What happens when you combine Sherlock Holmes and one of the pillars of the fantasy genera?
You get Mercedes Lackey’s The Bartered Brides!
An exciting take on what happens when Watson, Mary, and their (new to us) crew work a case after the events of Reichenbach Falls…
Now I must tell you I have a secret vice….after years of advising everyone at SMB to read series in order. I must admit I absolutely LOVE to start a long series in the middle! If an author can catch you up with who everyone is without using standard boilerplate descriptions of characters (one of the few things which drive me crazy about the In Death series by J.D. Robb), I take it as a positive sign for the quality of the story.
Now, mind you, in this case, the only reason why I started with the fourteenth book in the series is that I wasn’t wearing my glasses in the bookstore. (Seriously I need to get a chain for them & channel my inner librarian.) So the cover art caught my eye, the author name sealed the deal– but I completely missed the fine print– ah, well no one is perfect.
But to my complete satisfaction Lackey did an excellent job with this book! I thoroughly enjoyed reading the shifting perspectives of all involved, detectives, elemental masters (this is Mercedes Lackey after all– there had to be a supernatural spin to it– which Holmes regards with no small amount of skepticism), a mass murderer & his maid and two master criminals (one living and one dead)! A plot device which sometimes can get out of hand, but works well in this mystery.
Overall I think this book (and undoubtedly the entire series– which I intend to hunt down and read in its entirety) is well worth your time. Lackey marries together the quintessential detective duo of Holmes & Watson with the supernatural flawlessly while sprinkling in gothic elements to add an extra zing to her mystery. With the addition of two remarkable, well rounded, heroines it makes the Sherlock & Watson’s adventure more accessible to a wider range of readers (plus Mary Watson is rather kick-ass herself and hilariously often shields her husband from the more flagrant flouting of social conventions– like the when Nan & Sarah sneak off wearing men’s clothing!)
I would recommend this book to anyone who’s had trouble getting a foothold in the Sherlock canon. There are enough fantasy elements to keep a fan of the genera engaged (seriously, they are fun to read– elemental masters & wizards– earth, air, fire, water, and spirit nothing but fun). But for those of you who are Sherlock aficionados, there are enough of the elements from the original texts to keep you content (plus Lackey does not have Watson, Holmes, Mary or Mrs. Hudson doing anything out of character. Watson & Mary may have a bit more going on– but they stay true to their roots).
I cannot wait to start cracking on the other preceding thirteen books!