I m gonna be honest here I didn t like the main character Maya Witherspoon is a half Indian, half British suffragette doctor in the early 1900s If I remember correctly, the year is 1909 As unlikely as it is that she would be able to come out on top of all that while living in London and be able to practice medicine in a prejudiced society is great Unlikely, obviously, but it s fiction It s great reading a novel with a person of color as the main character it s not something you often get to see.But she is very shallow In fact, aside from her aunt, she is the only character described as being beautiful, including the men And being beautiful itself isn t the problem It s her internal monologue in chapter three I think it was where she described her best and only friend, Amelia, as someone who would never be pretty but that she would at least age well Not only was that paragraph unnecessary, but it comes after Amelia compliments her beauty and comes off as immensely shallow and cold It s great to have a main character that breaks the mold from being the white, pretty protagonist, but what good is it if she s horrid to her friends She s also pretty selfish for someone who continuously is donating her time to clinics as a doctor The people she seems to think she treats as family are essentially no than servants She does nothing to add to their well being aside from keeping and housing them She also is a very uncommitted suffragette to be someone who calls themselves a suffragette Sure, she believes in women s rights, but aside from attending one parade at the behest of Amelia, she does nothing to fight for those rights aside from going about her daily life as a doctor Sure, she s in a groundbreaking profession for women, but she s not fighting for voting rights, which is what the suffragettes were all about.I did, actually, enjoy the Twins , Peter Scott and Peter Almsley, as well as Gupta, Maya s loyal father like figure in the absence of her own father They all seemed like solid characters, albeit the latter two were a little one dimensional for supportive characters.The pets , however, bothered me For one, it s implied they are manifestations of the gods that are following Maya around because her mother is devout Despite that Maya is not in fact Hindu and owes no allegiance to these creatures It also seems that they don t age, so they re literally immortal pets that she can pass down to her children, despite that they may also be Christians The Hinduism in this book is just not handled that well At times, it s like an extension of an Indiana Jones movie Other times, it seems almost entirely dismissed It feels to me like the author wanted to take all the convenient fun things about Indian and Hindu culture while dismissing all of the less convenient things.I also feel like the magic system is a little overpowered Everybody seems to be a master almost as soon as they appear Maya s so naturally skilled, which seems illogical to me, that she only needs minimal teaching from someone who isn t even in her own element It just seemed like a cop out Everything just comes naturally to her The only real obstacle to her well being is her aunt, but otherwise she seems to face no real hardship than evil magicians and their nefarious ways Sure, she faces discrimination, but it never really goes than skin deep It never affects her too badly.Overall, I feel like it just needed polishing The writing is good in spots and plodding in others Some chapters, I was happy to read through while others I wanted to stop reading two pages later. I m not going to lie, this book was pretty mediocre I liked the premise, the setting, and the build up but it fell apart at the end with a rushed climax, which seems to be Mercedes Lackey s style.The characters are charming enough and I do love Victorian settings The pacing is a slow when compared to the ending, which is rushed I like the idea of having a half Indian main character who can hold her own, which is what we get with Maya, but it also brings about the issues of Lackey s use of the Indian culture and religion to her own devices This would not be so bad if it wasn t so random of an element for a character that claims she is Christian When reading it without much thought, it reads easily and quickly as a cheesy little story to pass the time The book does try to intone moral values that seems to be another of Lackey s writing quirks, as they are not done with a deft touch but instead hammered into your head, where it becomes a slight bit overbearing The magic system is simple at first glance but delves deeper and it s the thing that makes me come back to reading the series, as well as my own like for fairytale retellings. Mercedes Lackey Returns To Form In The Serpent S Shadow, The Fourth In Her Sequence Of Reimagined Fairy Tales This Story Takes Place In The London Of , And Is Based On Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs Lackey Creates Echoes Of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Pays Affectionate Homage To Dorothy Sayers S Lord Peter Wimsey Who Plays An Important Role Under A Thin Disguise , And Turns The Dwarves Into Seven Animal Avatars Who Masquerade As Pets Of Her Eurasian Heroine, Maya Some Of Maya S Challenges Come From The Fact That She Is Not Snow White, And She Has Fled India For Her Father S English Homeland After The Suspicious Deaths Of Her Parents Establishing Her Household In London, She Returns To Her Profession As A Physician, Working Among The Poor Her Pets And Loyal Servants Stand Guard, And Maya Herself Uses What Bits Of Magic She Managed To Pick Up In Childhood To Weave Otherworldly Defenses As Well But The Implacable Enemy Who Killed Her Parents Has Come To London To Search For Her If Maya Can Be Enslaved, Her Enormous Potential Powers Can Be Used To The Enemy S Ends Fortunately, English Magicians Of The White Lodge Have Also Noted A New, Powerful Presence In Their Midst, Though They Re Having Trouble Locating Her, Too They Send Peter Scott, A Water Master, To Track Her Down He Finds Maya Beautiful And Benign, And Is Determined To Teach Her To Use The Western Magic She Is Heir To, Before Her Enemy Discovers Her Some Will Find The Author S Kiplingesque Descriptions Of India And Hindustani Culture Offensive Lackey Describes Maya S Enemy As A Powerful Devotee Of The Goddess Kali Durga, Though She Carefully Shows That The Avatars Of The Other Deities Will Not Attack Her, And Has Kali Durga Repudiate Her Servant In The Climactic Confrontation And, Though The Story Is Layered, Its Surface Is As Glossy And Brightly Colored As An Action Comic But Readers Who Enjoy Late Victorian London, Sayers, Sherlock Holmes Stories, And A Page Turning Tale Will Want To Take This One HomeNona Vero This is my favorite book from Mercedes Lackey s new series, Elemental Masters Lackey has done a lovely job of creating interesting and reasonably realistic characters, and the world she has created is detailed and well written I love the multicultural flavor that this book has, as well as the wide diversity among the characters Unlike many books which are based in this particular time period, the main characters of this story are all lower or middle class people we only see the upper classes in passing, for the most part The main characters are strong people with flaws and problems that make them real to the reader, and the attention to detail is superb Lackey has clearly put a lot of effort into achieving a high degree of realism in the characters daily lives you can almost see yourself walking beside them as they go about their routines I found this to be an extremely enjoyable read, and have re read it several times An excellent introduction to Lackey s writing or to the fantasy genre in general If you like Regency Victorian romances, you will like this book For those who hate romances, rest assured that the romance is definitely secondary to the rest of the story there is a definite plot that does not include copious amounts of gratuitous sex described in excessively flowery terms. For entertainment and clever rendering of a fairy tale, The Serpent s Shadow deserves four stars The writing is not profound or life changing, but an excellent means for escape.I began this book with reluctance, feeling a little tired of fairy tale retellings I know it s shocking, but even I can have too much of a good thing However, in spite of my overdose, I was still impressed with Lackey s presentation of Snow White Her representation was all I most appreciate in a good retelling The story was set in an accurately presented Edwardian England minus all the magic and other fantastical details Also, elements of the fairy tale were recognizable, but cleverly blended into new surroundings For example, the traditional seven dwarfs were replaced by seven domesticated Indian animals serving both as pets and Indian gods in turn A clever twist is always greatly appreciated.So, other than my guilt over the amount of fluff I ve been reading, I really enjoyed this one In my defense, it wasn t entirely fluff It inspired me to check out a book about Hinduism and the gods of India, so some education is taking place. The London fog becomes deadlyI enjoyed this novel but enjoyed two of the short stories in this series GRAY and GRAY S GHOST have a feel of Kipling and Dickens about them which this novel lacks Instead, it is a typical Mercedes Lackey fantasy, but set in London instead of some alien world or universe Being a typical Mercedes Lackey fantasy is not a bad thing as she is a master of the genre There is not a lot of action in this one There are accounts of the trials of those campaigners for women s suffrage and women s rights in general the difficulties and prejudice faced by female physicians surgery and the use of magic for healing the hard, unpleasant lives of London s poor romance a society of elemental masters masquerading as a London gentlemen s club selkies and other magical creatures and, of course, villains and heroes There are a couple of things which don t seem quite right such as Maya, who is trying to hide from a deadly enemy, taking a very public role in a womens suffrage march Then, in the end, the deadly enemy who threatens Maya, the elemental masters and the British Empire proves to be somewhat less deadly and powerful than billed Not Lackey s best, but still good, this is probably 3 stars compared to her other work, but 4 stars compared to fantasy writing as a whole. I really like this book it s so much better than the ones which follow it in this series Maya is a great character, the pets are wonderful Hanuman, the langur monkey Rhadi, the wise parrot and the other birds saker falcon, peacock, eagle owl , and of course the mongooses.I just wish ML had been able to keep up the quality of the books she published after this one or maybe after the first 4 or so Phoenix and Ashes was very good, as was Wizard After that.. I read this before The Fire Rose, thinking it was the first book in the series Now that book has me pissed off at Mercedes Lackey and not in a mood to be charitable, even though I found this book to be much better than The Fire Rose.This book is a much better disguised fairy tale, as opposed to the blatant Beauty and the Beast tale of the first book It seems to have had much greater care and dedication given to it.She has clear tributes to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, and Dorothy Sayers, and she treats all the worlds, including that of Snow White, with some respect Perhaps respect than she grants to reality and India.The strong female is somewhat superior here than the The Fire Rose time is spent developing her character and she has a greater role in a different society The magic system is somewhat inconsistent to that in The Fire Rose, allowing greater cooperation between Magicians, but still not really developed She is a doctor and a suffragette She makes attempts to take care of herself and has her own power and role She does rely on her friends to take care of her, but at least she has friends and a life outside her man, unlike Rose.This was a perfectly servicable book, easy to read and enjoyable, but it shares much of the superficiality and condescension of The Fire Rose and can t really be called a good book. Edit re read because I am trash and can t stop won t stop re reading OLD SHIT WHEN I NEED TO READ MY NEW SHIT hoestahp whatareyoudoing sorrynotsorryI just love this series It s so trashy and fun It s seriously one of those books that you really should not take as a great example of literary writing but a great example of having fun while reading Don t judge the a holes that are like dis is poopy No, no it s not It s Snow White with a half Indian female doctor trying to practice in Victorian England while concealing her Earth magic from the evil that followed her from India And her seven dwarves are fabulous creatures that are so important.LOVE IT. While this is touted as the first book in the Elemental Masters series, the real first book in this series is the Fire Rose , so if you are going to read this book, you definitely want to check out the other one You can read that book before or after this one, it doesn t matter as the two are not too closely tied together.This is overall an entertaining book It brings magic into this world in a subtle way, almost like Harry Potter except magic works differently in the Elemental Masters universe that Lackey has created It s also a fun retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, but be forewarned, the author took great liberties with the original story, so some things will be quite different than what you might think for a retelling of the classic tale I like that the character of Maya is not some simpering princess, but a competent and able physician who digs out a place for herself and also finds the time to help poor people Overall a decent and likeable character, though the Prince Charming bit in this book is a bit obvious Still, overall a good book.