Today's book review is Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey. Actually, it's not today's review, it's from a week ago, but I finished the book on the GaFilk trip and I haven't gotten around to writing until now.
The latest in the Elemental Masters series, this takes place in England during World War I. She makes it an interesting time for the story, and my knowledge of that period of history and of English geography is much too sketchy for me to common on whether she did a good job with her background or just made some halfway plausible stuff up.
I was disappointed to discover, pretty quickly, that Phoenix and Ashes is a Cinderella story. Within the constraint of retelling Cinderella, Lackey manages to come up with a relatively interesting plot, and a couple of nice minor twists on the traditional story line. The writing carried me along and the hero and heroine were engaging, but I think she could have given us a much better plot if she'd started from scratch. I feel doubly let down because Lackey has just recently written another Cinderella story, The Fairy Godmother, and in that one she managed to come up with much fresher and more interesting ideas. The Elemental Masters universe is cool, and the first couple of books she wrote in it were excellent, but this one had a definite feel of being written to discharge an obligation and not because she had something to say. This feeling is reinforced by the fact that this book came out quite some time later than I had originally expected it.
In the grand scheme of things, not a bad book, but a disappointment from Lackey. It was enjoyable to read, but it didn't leave me with any significant feelings to carry forward. 7 out of 10.