I am so disappointed.
The story of Mari, destined to be wife to a selch and a water master in her own right, had potential. And honestly, I have loved the Elemental Masters series, especially since I find that they're based on faerie tales utterly charming.
However, this book has been infuriating.
Lackey has been especially formulaic and feel-good with this book. Gone is even the slightest hint of darkness. I'm disappointed with that -- Lackey used to be genuinely good at creating genuinely human characters who confront painful topics. Maybe this is just more young-adult than usual.
I'm also more than halfway through the book (page 170) and I don't know who the villain is. I guess it could be the new constable, but we've only really seen him once. Puck's mentioned a couple of times that there are dark powers interested in Mari, but I've seen little to no evidence of it.
There has been hashing and rehashing of the same information, both information from Sarah and Nan from The Wizard of London, the way magic works, and of the information Mari has been given. I just stumbled over the second instance where she discovers the selch aren't immortal. Yes, twice. And the first one was only twenty pages or so ago.
Sarah and Nan are seeming especially powerless in this book, too; they came to town, toddled around, found the bookshop, declared themselves incapable of finding their quarry, and called on Puck to help after saying over and over that they didn't want to. For two young women reputedly trained in the Sherlockian methods of investigation, it seems especially wishy-washy.
This is honestly the very first Mercedes Lackey book that I have genuinely disliked. These books tend to be my go-to comfort books; I know what I'm getting and I like what I get, but this seems rushed and ill-thought out. It's like she settled on The Tempest but couldn't figure out how to deal with it, rather than writing the story and letting it fall out.
Anyway, grump. I'm only halfway through, and if by some miracle the book redeems itself in that time, I'll update my review. As it stands, I'm really sad, especially since Lackey is one of my top ten favorite authors.
Updated: the conflict in this book was so weak. I finished it, but I'm still really sad. I have LOVED the Elemental Masters series, and this one fell so flat. Some parts were really rushed, some were really slow, the villains were more..well..not very villainous, and Lackey left major characters out of the book (Daffyd) for long periods of time to just spontaneously pop up out of nowhere later. Grump. :/