Review: Unnatural Issue by Mercedes Lackey

The particulars: Historical Fantasy, DAW, available as e-book and in print
The Source: Purchased at Books on Board, I think.
The Grade: C+
The blurb:
Richard Whitestone is an Elemental Earth Master. Blaming himself for the death of his beloved wife in childbirth, he has sworn never to set eyes on his daughter, Suzanne. But when he finally sees her, a dark plan takes shape in his twisted mind-to use his daughter’s body to bring back the spirit of his long-dead wife
The Review:
I have had this book for years, but never got around to read it until now.   
It was nice to revisit the world of the Elemental Masters. The alternative Europe that Ms Lackey has created felt very believable to me. From the moors of Yorkshire to the battlefields of Europe, it felt like I was there.
I liked Susanne and Peter. Susanne was smart, down to earth and had a good dose of common sense. Peter played the gentleman to the fingertop. He was used to a certain level of comfort. It was fascinating to watch how he used other peoples misconception to coax out clues.
It was also interesting to see how Susanne’s father changed from the Earth Master he was at the beginning, and how he started to use darker magics. ( I’ll admit that he gave me the creeps.)
The fantasy part of the plot was well crafted, if a bit predictable. I liked read about Susanne’s journey from the moors of Yorkshire to the battlefields of France. I liked how they managed to thwart her father through pure ingeniousity, but that they also realised that Susanne had to leave England. I liked how the war made life harder for Susanne, and how it gave her life a direction. I liked how she and Peter kept on trying to stop her father, and how it was Susanne who came up with the plan that finally succeeded.
What pulls down the grade is the romance. It felt.. unbalanced. Not in the way that Susanne is a Squire’s daughter and Peter is the son of an higher ranking noble. But it stems more from the fact that Susanna spent a big part of the story being infatuated with another man. While Peter was gradually falling in love with her. They did get their HEA, but Susanne’s part felt very rushed.

Review: Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard:

The Particulars: Historical Fantasy, Angry Robot, available as e-book and in print.
The Source: Purchased at Robot Trading
The Grade: C+
The Blurb:
IT IS THE YEAR ONE-KNIFE IN TENOCHTITLAN – THE CAPITAL OF THE AZTECS. The end of the world is kept at bay only by the magic of human sacrifice. A Priestess disappears from an empty roomdrenched in blood. 
Acatl, High Priest of the Dead must find her, or break the boundaries between the worlds of th living and the dead. But how do you find someone, living or dead, in a worldwhere blood sacrifices are an everyday occurrence and the very gods stalk the streets?
The Review:
I purchased this one when Angry Robot had its 50% off sale, mainly since the fact that it was set in Mexico during the Aztec Empire intrigued me.
I am glad that I purchased it. The setting felt vividly alive. From the heat, to the temples in the Sacred District. The existence of Calemacs ( probably spells it wrong) intrigued me, since I had no idea they existed. It was interesting to find out more about the temples.
The plot was well paced. It was interesting to follow Acatl search for clues, and how he hit dead ends sometimes. I also liked the fact that the plot was propelled forward by things he found out, and realised their importance. In some novels it feels like they discover things purely by look. Not here, here they discovered everything through determination.
The characters were an intriguing mix. From Acatl, who struggled with his past and his position as High priest, to his brother, the proud Jaguar Knight. Then there is Huei, his brother’s wife.
What I liked with this book was how the characters and the plot affected each other, in both good and bad ways.
So what I didn’t like. It took over 50 pages before the book hooked me . In fact, I read 50 pages, and put it down. It could easily have turned into a DNF for me. That said, I am glad I decided to pick it up again.