I'm back from my Maine-cation, did you miss me? No, I didn't feel the earthquake, I was already back in MA by then and couldn't feel a thing. It was really nice to get away for a week in the fall because I could enjoy the beautiful colors the trees were turning and how crisp the air was becoming. But mainly (not pun intended) getting away to Maine means that I get a chance to sit and read without the distraction of TV and email. Home From the Sea, is the book I chose to immerse myself in during this free time, and I was not disappointed.
Mercedes Lackey opened my eyes to the world of fantasy writing for adults. Before her Griffin series, fantasy to me was Hans Christian Anderson and Langs Multi Colored Fairy tale books. Home From the Sea is the most recent addition to Lackey's Elemental Masters series, which are basically retellings of classic fairy tales set in Edwardian England. Some of the stories that Lackey has tackled before include Beauty and the Beast, Puss in Boots, and the Snow Queen. She has even used some more obscure fairy tales like Donkeyskin in her writing. This story has elements of the Irish fairy tale, Tam Lin, but focuses mainly on different aspects of the whole genre of Selkie (seal people) tales.
One of the reasons I love this series is because the characters that Lackey creates don't just disappear at the end of her stories, many of them pop back up in other books as supporting characters. Home From the Sea reintroduces readers to the two little girls from The Wizard of London, but as grown-ups instead of little girls. It was really nice to get to know these characters again as integral parts of the story and not just as supporting characters. Though not elementally gifted themselves, they have been sent to observe a strange new Water Master in Wales and get drawn into ancient bargains, vindictive clan leaders, and stolen families. I was alittle afraid at first that the story was going to be split between London and Wales, but it turns out that after the initial chapters, the dual story lines coincide and the little town of Cloggwyn becomes the main focus of the narration.
As much as I love the stories that Lackey weaves, they are not great literature, and they certainly don't need to be. I believe that its a good thing to be able to pick up a book and know before you even open the pages that the baddies are going to be punished and the heroes will survive to live happily ever after. In this way Lackey is not really altering the fundamental heart of the fairy tale. These stories may be updated but they are certainly not Disneyfied. There is often the potential for terrible and gruesome punishments to be inflicted on evil magicians who have mismanaged their magical abilities. After all the Evil Queen in the original Snow White was forced to dance in red hot iron shoes until she burned up.
I would give this story 4 stars because it is a very good addition to the Elemental Masters series, but there are a few other books that I enjoyed just a bit more (The Serpent's Shadow and Phoenix and Ashes). I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this series to anyone that loves fairy tales, or someone that wants a relatively easy read that will leave you with a smile on your face and a warm gooey feeling inside.