Among Mercedes Lackey’s many novels, few are as critically acclaimed and beloved as those about the Elemental Masters. The novels in this series are loosely based on classic fairy tales, and take place in a fantasy version of turn-of-the-century London, where magic is real and Elemental Masters control the powers of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Now other authors join Mercedes Lackey to add their own special touches to this delightful alternate history, in a world where magic is always just around the corner...
Lackey opens up the sandbox of her Elemental Masters universe (The Fire Rose, etc.) to other writers in this slightly uneven and passionless historical urban fantasy anthology. A few tales have delightful sparks that facilitate immersion in the shared world, but most are more fluffy than memorable. Ron Collins's "The Collector" stands out with passion and disquieting depth as an injured black veteran with slowly developing supernatural powers rages at the everyday racist injustices of civilian life in 1901 Georgia. In Michele Lang's complex and evocative "The Phoenix of Mulberry Street," a reporter investigating arson in 1885 New York's tenements meets a very unusual little match girl. The repeated feminist themes are often too pointed and heavy-handed, but fans of Lackey's work will easily slide back into the familiar universe while newcomers will find this an acceptable introduction.