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THE SERPENT’S SHADOW by Mercedes Lackey


by Mercedes Lackey

Pub Date: March 6th, 2001
ISBN: 0-88677-915-4
Publisher: DAW/Berkley

Snow White variant set in Edwardian London, from the author of Brightly Burning (2000), etc. Dr Maya Witherspoon, her Indian mother dead, her English father mysteriously killed by snakebite, sets up a practice in London, having fled the vengeful fury of her aunt Shivani, a magic-powered devotee of Kali. Shivani apparently regarded the mixed marriage as a deadly insult to her Brahmin family. Maya inherited a coterie of animals from her mother—they may be avatars of various Hindu gods and goddesses. And she possesses huge Earth Mage magic potential, but lacks training. Her strong but amateurish magical defenses come to the attention of London’s White Lodge, who send along former sea captain and Water Mage Peter Scott to investigate. The Lodge master, however, won’t consider admitting women or lower-class individuals, so Peter undertakes to teach Maya basic techniques. She already uses magic in healing. Shivani, meanwhile, takes up residence in London, sending forth her magic and her Thuggee servants to seek out her quarry.

A promising start, with plenty of solid period detail and a splash of feminism, but disappointingly developed, with a thin, poorly motivated plot and a showdown that just hangs out to dry.