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Unnatural Issue (Elemental Masters #6)

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,564 Ratings  ·  251 Reviews
Susanne Whitestone, an Earth Master magician,had always lived in Whitestone Manor and liked nothing more than to keep the land itself and its animal inhabitants thriving.For the last eleven years, she has had a special teacher in the forest—a powerful fae known only as Robin. Susanne, at twenty-one, doubted any mortal Earth Master could find fault with the practices that R ...more
Paperback, 374 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by DAW Books (first published June 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 13, 2013 Jen rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people I don't like.
Recommended to Jen by: Nobody, thank goodness. Or I would have to kill them.
Shelves: reviewed-books
This was bad.

This was beyond bad.

It was agonising.

It was agonising and dull at the same time.

How can a book about incest (well, sort of), necromancy and war be dull? Well, Mercedes Lackey managed it, no question.

Firstly, let's take the characters. The goodies were superhumanly good; the baddie was superhumanly bad. Seriously, I thought the villain had a List of Evil Things To Do and was conscientiously ticking them off, one by one. Every single character was, in the words of Shakespeare, stale
J. Tamsin Green
Aug 26, 2011 J. Tamsin Green rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As with so much of this series, an agonizing read. No attention paid to narrative, pacing, or plot; occasional, interesting historical details undermined by the slapdash production values, which cause me to mistrust the author's research. Well, that's not wholly true: I believe she's spent some time taking notes about dairy management of the period.

That said, the book's greatest sin is its distracted characterization: Suzanne goes from bland to actively detestable, and achieves semi-convincing c
Oct 17, 2011 Rebecca rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Yet another installment in the Elemental Master series, this one is based on the fairy tale "The King Who Wished to Marry His Daughter". (Yes, yes, I know--while each of these books is an update of a classic fairy tale to the mid-19th or early 20th century, the tales in question are getting increasingly obscure as she goes on.)

Not brilliant literature. Just fun. They're the literary equivalent of, I don't know, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Unsophisticated, churned out, and utterly lacking in any
"Donkeyskin" is one of my favorite fairy tales. It's dark, creepy, and disturbing. That's everything that Lackey isn't these days. She was, long ago, capable of being dark and disquieting. That's one of the reasons her Last Herald's Mage trilogy is so popular - because of everything she put Vanyel through. But over the years, she's started to write lighter and lighter fantasy. I've read interviews where she says her lighter works sell better than her dark ones. I try not to blame her for writing ...more
Nov 24, 2011 Dawn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
To be honest, I find myself reluctant to review Lackey's work at all at this point, despite the fact that I still pick up most of them. Usually off the sale rack or as a library loan at this point, where once I would rush to get my hands on the newest hardcovers as they were released. So I'm doing the latest three as a trio in one. Considering I read the three of them over two days while resting in bed (I've been a bit off lately) I think that's fair.

"Unnatural Issue" is another typical piece f
Another lightweight entry in the Elemental Masters series. This one tries to follow the "Donkeyskin" story by Charles Perrault. As the book opens, it would seem that Lackey does a good job of staying close to the tale, but by the end of the book, it's very much another one in her series. That's not necessarily a bad thing--the final confrontation is as good as anything that Lackey has written. However, despite her willingness to include extreme violence, Lackey's books are never all that horrify ...more
Jennifer Heise
As usual, finishing a Mercedes Lackey book in this series leaves one with the same feeling as finishing a bag of cheese doodles in one sitting. Yes, you know it was mostly air, and you know it was junkfood for the brain, and you shouldn't have... but you just couldn't help it. Crunch Crunch.

Lackey's desire to write about Peter Wimsey (view spoiler), plus her devotion to a Kiplingish Puck, is all over this. As
Jul 20, 2011 Dlora rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Sort of a lightweight, undemanding fantasy but with a 5-star section at the end I'll tell you about in a minute. Set in England on the eve of World War I, Susanne Whitestone has led an isolated life as the daughter of a landowner but working as a servant all her life. Her father had rejected his daughter at birth when his beloved wife died birthing her and became a kind of hermit, turning away from his magical powers as an Earth Master to become a necromancer and dabble in forbidden blood arts. ...more
Nov 09, 2011 M— rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Well, it didn't infuriate me as much as The Wizard of London and I didn't want to fling it against the wall like I did Reserved for the Cat, but I officially no longer enjoy this series. The Victorian/Edwardian-era setting, so interesting for the first two or three novels, now grates on me. The gender and class politics that seem to resolve at the climax of each book just come back in the next one. I have utterly no patience left for the (male) characters with their relentlessly cheery 'by Jove! ...more
Jen A.
Jun 20, 2011 Jen A. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 24, 2012 Stacey rated it liked it
I enjoyed it (but, then, I like all of Mercedes Lackey's work). It's an easy read, pitting good (the heroine) against evil (her father). The tale is a wee bit far-fetched, but when you're talking magic you kind of have to role with it. The story takes place in England and France, on the brink of, and then into, wartime. It was a little odd to have a World War going on when the focus was really on elementals and necromancy, but it got me thinking that it would be really cool if in one of the upco ...more
If you've enjoyed the other Elemental Masters novels by Lackey, I think you'll enjoy Unnatural Issue. Maya from The Serpent's Shadow appears several times rather briefly, but while knowledge of the rules of Elemental magic is helpful, readers need not have read any other specific books in Lackey's Elemental Masters series.

The characters are well-developed, the plot hums along nicely without getting overly complex and the settings contrast nicely. In short, the technical aspects are almost perfec
Ashley Tebbenhoff
Mercedes Lackey has reigned on the top of my favorites list for a long time along with my love of magic, history, and a good fairy tale retelling. So it goes without saying that almost any book from her is a winner. However, this one came with a mixed bag. I liked, unlike some of her other recent Elemental Masters books, that the book assumed I had some knowledge about the world she had built in her previous books. I liked that she didn't drag me through the character learning the same basic spe ...more
Rose Stachowicz
I was excited to see a retelling of such a controversial fairy tale, but ultimately it was quite a let down. I've read from this author before and I've liked some of her other works, but this one just isn't my favorite.

For starters, it feels almost like this novel had a deadline that everyone was rushing to meet. There were instances of repetition or contradiction that just make it sloppy. For example, on the repetition, there is a passage from the father's perspective that explains ghosts. A pa
Feb 25, 2015 Sylvia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It has been a long time since I read Mercedes Lackey, and now I remember why. There is a thinness to this story that allows (demands!) critical thinking to shine through, rather than carrying one along and saving the critiquing until after the last page has been turned. I picked this up at the library basically because I had been suggested the next in the series 'Home From the Sea' and figured to read another at the same time. I am now part way into HFTS and already seeing the same pattern emerg ...more
Jun 29, 2014 Jess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It makes me a little sad to see so many bad reviews for this one. I am a huge fan of Mercedes Lackey and I love the Elemental Masters series. Fairy Tale retellings have become a lot more common in recent years, but Mercedes Lackey is one of the few authors willing to tackle some of the lesser known fairy tales such as Donkeyskin. I thought she did an admirable job breathing new life into it. Sometimes I did want to smack Suzanne, but the plot kept my attention the whole way through. It wasn't my ...more
Mar 18, 2012 Miriam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fairy-tale
This WWI resetting of the creepy "Donkey-Skin" fairy tale is an improvement in plot and pacing over some of Lackey's other recent efforts, although the romance was very poorly done -- surprisingly so for an author who is usually moderately successful in that area.

One star off for not only blatantly stealing another author's character but for doing it so poorly.
Jun 29, 2011 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
After "Reserved For The Cat" I was a bit leery of going back to the Elemental Masters series, but this one goes back on the rails with light entertainment that's a quick read. Parts of it drag, and interestingly it's the parts that have magical battles, which is kinda bizarre. Even more interesting, the most engaging part was when one of the protagonists is in a front line trench at the beginning of WWI. It made me want to see Lackey stretch out and write a period piece minus the magic (I know, ...more
Jan 18, 2014 Joan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans who like fantasy
This was grim reading even for this series which has dealt with things like the pandemic flu of 1917. We have now moved to the other horrendous event of that time, World War One. An earth mage comes back from fighting the magic bad guys to discover that his wife has just died in childbirth. On discovering that the baby, a girl, survived, he went into a rage and said he never wanted to see her or hear her. Fast forward 20 years to when WWI would start in several months. That rejected baby was bro ...more
Dec 10, 2015 Matthew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not very good story of the Elemental Masters. Based on an unknown story about a girl whose father falls in love with her and she runs off and finds another man. The girl, in the story, is an Earth Master with vast... caretaking... powers... trained by The Puck, Robin Goodfellow, who doesn't act very godly. She falls in love with a man who seems all wrong for her when the right man is there all along. She has a kind of trick to win her battle with her father, but it is full of plot holes... she's ...more
Kat  Hooper
Jul 24, 2015 Kat Hooper rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
1.5 review coming soon at
Filia Martin
I'm not sure how to rate this as a story loosely based off of a fairy tale (I'm not familiar with Donkey Skin other than the basics, and I don't WANT to be, thanks), but as a story, this was actually one of the better Mercedes Lackey books I've read. I recall Gates of Sleep being a bit dull, and Phoenix and Ashes being good, but that it took a long time to get to that point.

This book is in the same vein to me as Phoenix and Ashes--it takes awhile for the action to happen, but it doesn't disappoi
Delicious Strawberry
I'm not sure why people are complaining so much about the story in this book. Mercedes Lackey is not condoning incest, in fact she does the exact opposite! I found the story itself to be refreshing, and one of the better ones in the Elemental Masters series. There is a lot of exploration of magic here, especially of Earth. We have learned that the inverse of Fire magic is cold (Wizard of London) and the inverse of Earth is death (necromancy) and illness (something that was illustrated in Phoenix ...more
Jul 19, 2011 Bookworm1858 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011, sffp
Unnatural Issue by Mercedes Lackey
Daw Books, 2011
361 pages
Fantasy; Fairy Tale
4/5 stars

Source: Library

Although Mercedes Lackey is a prolific writer of fantasy, I'm really only familiar with her 500 Kingdoms series and her Elemental Masters series, mostly because they draw heavily on fairy tales. That makes me feel somewhat bad that I haven't explored her oeuvre more but happy whenever a new book comes out such as this one. This is another companion to the Elemental Masters, drawing upon the fairy
An Odd1
Nov 10, 2011 An Odd1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
When his beautiful wife dies in childbirth, Earth mage Whitestone angrily rejects his newborn "Unnatural Issue" (Elemental Masters #6) until she reaches the same age and loveliness. Then he masters necromancy. The naive Yorkshire lass learns power from fae Puck, diverts attentions to a simalcrum, overhears the evil plans, and runs away. But she lands in France, nursing at the Front in WW2. Her strength at illusions gave me only a hint of the final plan. The battle scenes are horrific, both magic ...more
Sep 20, 2013 Ami rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Where to begin? I have been a fan of Mercedes Lackey for 20+ years although, it's actually been some time, close to a year since I'd read anything by her. I've been in my usual rut of mysteries over the summer and was quite ready to take a break from the genre when I came across this at the library. I usually enjoy retold fairytales because often it will reveal a facet I hadn't thought of before and gets me digging deeper. So add that to the fact that I had come across a series I hadn't previous ...more
May 19, 2013 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Earth Master Richard Whitestone's wife dies in childbirth, he discards their newborn daughter Suzanne in a fit of rage. Suzanne is raised as a servant of the household, while her father wastes away in his chambers. After many years, Whitestone develops a new passion - necromancy. When he sees his daughter wandering his lands, he realizes she is the perfect vessel in which to trap his dead wife's spirit. Suzanne must flee her father, and hide in the guise of a servant in another household. B ...more
Lynda Tatad
Aug 01, 2011 Lynda Tatad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters novels! I like that even though new characters are introduced with their own storyline, it still flows with the previous stories, and characters from the other books in the series are involved with this story, too. If anything, this story picks up shortly after Reserved For The Cat had finished off.

*************plot summary spoilers**************

Earth Master Richard Whitestone is on his way back from London, where he's still trying to remove the city t
Susanne has never met her father. The servants raised her as one of their own. When she discovered she had magic as a child, luck gave her a teacher and a friend, the fae Lord Robin. Suddenly her father takes an interest in her, but something feels wrong about this attention. Meanwhile, Peter Almsley has been sent by Lord Aldscroft to investigate the stirrings of a necromancer in the countryside. Outside of England, trouble is brewing and the world is unsettled.

As the next installment of Lackey'
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Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts &am ...more
More about Mercedes Lackey...

Other Books in the Series

Elemental Masters (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • The Fire Rose (Elemental Masters, #0)
  • The Serpent's Shadow (Elemental Masters, #1)
  • The Gates of Sleep (Elemental Masters, #2)
  • Phoenix and Ashes (Elemental Masters, #3)
  • The Wizard of London (Elemental Masters, #4)
  • Reserved for the Cat (Elemental Masters, #5)
  • Home from the Sea (Elemental Masters, #7)
  • Steadfast (Elemental Masters #8)
  • Blood Red (Elemental Masters, #9)
  • From a High Tower (Elemental Masters, #10)

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