Friday, October 30, 2009

Book Review: The Serpent's Shadow by Mercedes Lackey

Not only has Davan been sick this week, but I've been feeling under the weather some, too. As a result, we've had several at home days with lots of time for reading, both together and individually. Yesterday, I finished up with The Serpent's Shadow.

When I was in my early 20s, I really loved Mercedes Lackey's books. I particularly liked the Heralds of Valdemar series. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I may get those to read with Davan. (As an aside, though, you may want to be careful about giving Lackey's books to a young person without checking them out yourself. There is some amount of unpleasantness from time to time and, if it concerns you or your young one, also some romantic encounters, which are not limited to those of opposite sex.) I continued to enjoy her books off and on, but mostly off these days. A few days ago while looking for another book at the library, I saw this one by her and picked it up on a whim.

Overall, I found the book to be okay. I didn't feel compelled to spend a lot of time reading, which is too bad because it would have been a good time to be really into a book, but I certainly wasn't avoiding reading, as has happened with some books, at which point I know it's time to give up on it.

The setting is London around...oh, well, here you'll see I'm awful with my history times...but when motor cars are just starting to replace horse drawn carriages, women are fighting for the right to vote and England is occupying India. Maya Witherspoon is a young female doctor (which is unusual for the times), as well as being of mixed heritage (dad is English, mom is Indian) and is forced to flee to London from her native India after her parents die and she suspects that she is in danger. Magic is interwoven with mundane life and, over the course of the book, Maya learns about the difference between Indian and English magic, which is her source of magic, and who her enemy is.

I found the characters to be okay and the plot to be fairly formulaic (I knew just when the love interest was due to show up, for example). I really didn't enjoy the chapters that were from the point of view of the villain, who was up to some unpleasant things. (Goodness between Dogs and The Serpent's Shadow, both of which were fairly mild about horror, but enough so that I was turned off a bit, I'm sure ready for a more sunny read.)

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being so bad a book that I didn't finish and 10 being one of the best books I've read/I just couldn't put it down, I'd give The Serpent's Shadow about a 6.

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