Review: The Wizard of London

The Wizard of London (Elemental Masters, #5)The Wizard of London (Elemental Masters #5) by Mercedes Lackey
Synopsis from the back of the book*:
The letter that introduced twelve-year-old Sarah Jane Lyon-White to Isabelle Harton, who ran the Harton School in central London, seemed quite simple and straightforward. But it was what was not written in the letter that resonated to Isabelle’s own finely tuned “extra” senses: “Sarah has gifts we cannot train,” the letter whispered to her, “nor can anyone we know. Those we trust tell us that you can….”
And it was true, for the Harton School was far from ordinary.  It was Isabelle’s job to train children who possessed the odd types of magic that could not be trained by London’s powerful Elemental Masters: clairvoyants, telepaths, those with the ability to sense hidden danger, the vision to see into the past, and even that rarest of all talents: the ability to see and communicate with the dead.
But Isabelle was uneasy, for though she knew that Sarah Jane had a touch of telepathy, there seemed to be be something else about the girl – something that had not yet manifested.
And Isabelle was right to be worried, for as soon as Sarah’s full talents became evident, there was an attempt made on her life. For Sarah was that rarest of magicians: a true medium, and for some reason, a powerful Elemental Master wanted her dead.
Isabelle knew that to protect her ward she would have to seek help from the Elemental Masters of the city. That meant she would also see Lord David Alderscroft, the man she had once loved, but who had inexplicably chilled toward her and broken her heart long ago – for he was the leader of the city’s Elemental Masters, the man who was now called the Wizard of London.

*Normally I would have used the summary for Goodreads, but in this case I feel as if it is too short.

The Elemental Masters series is a loosely-connected series about elemental magicians in Victorian-era England.  Each book is stand-alone, although some characters crop up in other novels, and each book is very loosely based on a fairy tale.  In the case of The Wizard of London, that tale is The Snow Queen.

The pacing of this book felt very hit-or-miss.  Some chapters flew by while others seemed to drag.  Having read a decent amount of the short stories about Sarah Jane that Lackey has published over the years, this felt like Lackey took several of those short stories and jammed them together into a book, the same way one might make a patch-work quilt, which only detracted further from the pacing.

The characters were also kind of hit or miss.  I liked most of them – found them complex and interesting, especially Isabelle – but Sarah Jane herself almost always read as too mature for her age, even given the time period, her responsibilities, and the idea of her being an ‘old soul’.

I don’t really have a lot more to say about this book, unfortunately, other than that I think it’s one of Lackey’s weaker books in general.  It’s enjoyable enough, and if you like fairy tale retellings with a twist then there’s some enjoyable moments, but I don’t know if that’s enough for me to recommend it.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

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