Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Magic Sleep

Hi all, how is your fall going?  Have you broken out the boots yet, or are you stuck with 90 degree heat like I am?  To make myself feel better about this icky heat, I'm gonna ramble about a book 'cause who doesn't love a good rambling.  The book is The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey and is part of the Elemental Masters series.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Marina Rosewood is born to Alanna and Hugh Rosewood, two Earth Masters who have looked forward to her birth very much.  They are having a private christening party where several of her godparents...who also happen to be Elemental Masters are giving her various gifts that compliment her own Water powers.  Just as they last godparent is getting ready to give her gift, Hugh's estranged sister Arachne (how is that for a villain name?) curses the child to die before her 18th birthday.  The family understandably freaks out a bit, but one last godparent, Elizabeth, a Water Master is able to modify the curse so that if the curse is not activated by the time the child is 18, the curse will rebound on Arachne, and if the curse is activated, then Marina will only sleep until a cure is found.  To try and keep the curse from taking effect, Mariana is sent right then and there with Margahrita (Earth Master), her husband Sebastian (a Fire Master) and her brother Thomas (also an Earth Master) to live in an artist cottage in the woods.  Marina is raised with much love, art and magic by these three until tragedy strikes when she is 17.  Marina's parents die in an "accident" and she become the ward of her aunt Arachne who summons the child to live with her.  Marina is hauled away from her godparents and the only life she has ever known and thrust into a "high society" world that she is entitled to.  Arachne determines that for some reason Marina is clueless about the curse and has no real idea why her parents sent her away.  Arachne keeps a very tight leash on her niece under the guise of prepping her to enter society.  Marina's only break is when she goes to the vicar to work with him.  Marina meets Dr. Andrew Pike, an Earth Master who has built a sanitarium dedicated to actually helping patients instead of just warehousing them.  He also takes in children with Elemental Magic that do not have the benefit of parents or guardians who understand that the kid's are not crazy, just gifted.  Marina helps Dr. Pike when she can and the two fall in love.  Meanwhile Arachne and her odious (I love that word) son Reggie split their time between trying to keep Marina in line, and working on their dark arts in which they steal magic from those who have it by slowly poisoning them in their pottery factories.  Eventually Arachne activates her spell by getting Marina to accidentally prick her finger on a needle hidden in her childhood cradle.  Marina's godparents find her and along with the vicar, and Dr. Pike help Marina defeat Arachne when they are both pulled into the spirit world.  Archacne is defeated, Marina FINALLY learns about her own history and they all live happily ever after.
In case you didn't get it from the synopsis, this installment of the series was based on the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty.  Of all the books I've read in this series so far this is the most straight forward retelling, with the story following very closely to the original tale.  That made it...I don't want to say boring...but maybe a tad to predictable for my taste as I could pretty much figure out exactly what was going to happen every step of the way.  This was also one of those books that uses a lack of information to further the story.  The whole thing pretty much hinged on Marina not knowing of the curse and ways to counter it.  I would think with all the other things the godparents taught to her, and the way they treated her as an adult most of the time, that they would have pretty much trained her since birth to protect herself.  The love story was also a wee bit forced, but it could have been worse.  What I did like about this particular installment of the series is the almost minimizing of the Elemental Powers in certain characters.  The godparents were essentially artists who used their powers in small, domestic ways...almost as an after thought.  They are more focused on perfecting their art, no their powers and are therefore weaker then a practitioner who spends all their time practicing with their Elements.  I loved that this book showed that there were other less epic ways to wield the elements and still have a great life.  I liked the portrayal of both the vicar and Dr. Pike as men of gentleness, open mindedness and sensibleness.  Many times, especially in Victorian era books, the church men are portrayed as either lecherous power hungry dictators, or bumbling simple comic relief.  The vicar in this book was none of this AND helpful as well.  Dr. Pike along with the sanitarium he ran was also awesome as the evil torturous crazy house is a trope seen way to often in Victorian era books.  Learning about how a person could steal magic using the dark arts was interesting and the two different beliefs of mother and son when it came to the same rituals was cool as well. I did like that Marina could appreciate both the simple artists colony, but still want to have the modern pretty clothes and some part in society.  I think this shows how most people feel, enjoying more than one type of lifestyle and liking pretty things, or wanting to be a part of something different does not make you a bad person, or even lessen your love for another way of life.  Overall it was an ok book, it fits in with the series very well, but is not my favorite one.  I would recommend it to anybody who likes a fairy tale retelling, the Elemental Masters series, or certain tropes turned on their head.  I give this book 7 out of 10 carved cradles.  Happy Reading Everybody!

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