My apologies for disappearing for the last week or so – Real Life intruded upon my blogging again in pleasant and not-so-pleasant ways.

But I’m back now, and with a book to review!

Happily, I quite enjoyed Mercedes Lackey’s newest Elemental Masters novel, Unnatural Issue. I herald her as one of my favorite authors, but, I must confess that I’ve been pretty disappointed in her last few books – Wizard of London especially. The drop in quality was so noticeable that one of my friends and I have gone so far as to speculate that she’s using a ghost writer for some of her novels.

Unnatural Issue seemed to be a return to the quality and imagination of the earlier novels. It’s based on the faerie tale, “Donkeyskin”, and thus has some creepy elements that really enhance the story. Unlike other adaptations, Unnatural Issue doesn’t follow through with some of the more disturbing elements of the original tale, so it’s a lighter read than, say, Robin McKinley’s Deerskin.

Some readers complained that Lackey seems to be using the plot device of the main villain taking over or plotting to take over someone else’s body repeatedly. On one hand, I agree – I can think of at least two other books in the Elemental Masters series alone that use that same trope. On the other hand, she is basing her stories off of the older faerie tales, so body snatching isn’t too out of place, since the evil creature in the old tales seem particularly fond of imitating the other characters.

Overall, this book is your standard brain candy – enjoyable to read with nothing too heavy. The scenes on the battlefields of WWI are truly chilling, while the scenes in the English countryside are fun and peaceful. The characters are all likable and fleshed out enough to keep you reading, and the plot moves along at a good pace. If  you like faerie tale retellings, I recommend you check it out. I’ll probably end up buying my own copy once it comes out in paperback.

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