Phoenix and Ashes
by Mercedes Lackey
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
405 pages; ISBN: 0756401615
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
Phoenix and Ashes
Daw, Oct 2004, $24.95, 405 pp.
While World War I rages in Europe, in Broom, England widower Charles Robinson is a successful merchant raising his daughter Eleanor. One day he returns from a business trip with a surprise for Eleanor; he introduces her new “mother” his wife Alison and her two daughters. Almost immediate after the nuptials, he signs on for trench warfare and dies in combat.
Alison, a dark Earth Master, binds Eleanor to the house with an obedience spell. Meanwhile former pilot and Air Master Reggie Fenyx returns home believing he lost his magical prowess when he was tormented by earth elementals. Though depressed the family ball is coming up and he will play the role of good host. Eleanor, who has loved Reggie, begins serendipitously to learn to use her skill as a Fire Master. If Alison finds out what she is doing too soon she knows she is doomed, but perhaps at the ball Reggie will realize she is his life mate and together combining the power of fire and air with love they can defeat earth.
This is an intriguing retelling of Cinderella that combines history and fantasy to tell an adult fairy tale. Alison is a terrifically sinister malevolence while Eleanor is her perfect unsure opponent and slave. Reggie suffers from battle fatigue that has sapped him of his natural abilities leaving him magically impaired, which makes him an interesting protagonist. Though the story line at times is overwhelmed with historical details that seem unnecessary even if they provide in most cases a World War I era ambience, Mercedes Lackey provides a fine rendition of the classic tale with her latest Elemental Masters novel.
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