Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Daw Books (Mar 2003)
I've not been one of Ms Lackey's greatest fans, finding her work to be overly twee. And indeed, any writer who thinks that telepathic horses are a good idea needs to note that at least Anne McCaffrey disguised her telepathic horses as flying dragons. So I started this book without great hopes.
And I was pleasantly surprised. No, I wouldn't put it up there with the greats, but it's a nice loose take on the Sleeping Beauty myth, set in an alternative late Victorian era where a hidden caste of mages make use of the four elements of earth, fire air and water. Our heroine is the Sleeping Beauty herself. Except that, of course, the story would be rather tedious if she spent the entire novel asleep, so it actually follows her while she is exiled to the Devon wilds to try to avoid the curse of her black-sheep aunt before, of course, ending up confronting her at the climax.
If I have to fault it, it is that the good people are all good, with no shading. On the other hand, the bad ones are quite delightfully nasty, and that's the point of Fairy Tales.
I understand that there are other Elemental Mages books, but this one stands alone perfectly well.
Somewhat better than I expected.