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The Bartered Brides

(Elemental Masters #13)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  915 ratings  ·  108 reviews
The thirteenth novel in the magical alternate history Elemental Masters series continues the reimagined adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a richly-detailed alternate Victorian England.

The threat of Moriarty is gone—but so is Sherlock Holmes.

Even as they mourn the loss of their colleague, psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and Elemental Masters John and Mary
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published October 16th 2018 by DAW
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eReaderUK The tale of Bluebeard is retold in this novel, set in Victorian London.

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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Lyssa Sue Shaffer
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was ok

I jump to buy any new Lackey release. But this entry to the world of the Elemental Masters lost me early on. The first books were wonderful, unique and thought-provoking. This volume struggles so to fit the Arthur Conan Doyle model that it took multiple attempts to finish reading it.

The best of Lackey is found in her ability to weave heart and hope into facing challenges and mysteries. This is the first volume without heart or hope or wit. I found no humor to hold me, and a lack of growth
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Once again, we spend a significant portion of the book (at least one-third) in the head of the villain, who's blithely Bluebearding poor young women--one of whom is twelve--to use as magical fuel for his necromancy. Nan and Sarah are still the Best Psychics in London, and Sarah is revealed to be a super-special kind of magician that's ever so rare and with specialized abilities.

I think I'm done with this series, at least until it stops being the Nan and Sarah (and Holmes-Adjacent) Adventures.
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Holmsian horror!

Lackey's Sherlock Holmes trope with a touch of horror is vastly engaging.
Sherlock and Moriaty have perished over Ravensbruck Falls. Elemental masters John and Mary Watson, occultists Nan Killian and Sarah Lyon-White find themselves enmeshed in a struggle with a necromancer who just might have had links to Moriaty's network. Headless bodies are beginning to turn up, dressed in white garments. Brides! But for what purpose?
Disturbing developments see the Watson's targeted by the
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathy Davie
Fourteenth in the Elemental Masters historical paranormal fantasy series and revolving around Elementals of Air, Earth, Water, Fire, and Spirit. The focus here is on Nan and Sarah working with Dr Watson and his wife, Mary, and set in June in Victorian London.

If you're interested, there is a chronological listing of the Elemental Masters books on my website.

My Take
Lackey incorporates Sherlock Holmes and his world into that of the occult, using Nan and Sarah as the bridge into her world of magic.
Nov 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Loosely following events that happened to Holmes, with the addition of Elemental magic to the story, of course. Nan and Sarah are learning more about their skills, and how to put them to use. Grisly murders are happening, and without Holmes to help, they have to try their best at uncovering the truth. Another good installment to the story.
Lissa Notreallywolf
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
Best not to read this novel without it's antecedents, Study in Sable and the Battersea title, not to mention the introductory book, The Wizard of London. I skipped Sable and Battersea to find the two girls nearly grown up, living in their own flat and assisting Sherlock Holmes. This novel was familiar, probably from having read a prior one of this series where a necromancer was the Lodge's enemy, although that one was set in a country estate rather than an East End flat. I'm weary from reading ...more
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Originally published at Reading Reality

The Bartered Brides is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, as was last week’s Mycroft and Sherlock. But in spite of the two stories having more or less the same starting point, the Holmes canon, they couldn’t be any more different in tone or even genre.

Mycroft and Sherlock was a fairly straightforward, albeit excellent, historical mystery. The Bartered Brides on the other hand puts Sherlock Holmes in the midst of a Victorian urban fantasy. This is a world in which
Nov 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
Another example of the author's irregular writing & forced intro of political viewpoints. Disappointing.
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Im always up for more Nan and Neville and Sarah and Grey and Sherlock and the Watsons, so I was pretty thrilled they get to star in this latest Elemental Masters book. Sarah and Nan and their birds are sort of outliers in the series because these characters do not appear to be Elemental Masters and have an almost entirely different and unique skillset which allows them to address matters the magicians might not even consider - and often cannot; yet their abilities complement the work the ...more
Anne Morgan
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Returning to the world of Elemental Magicians, psychics, and Sherlock Holmes, The Bartered Brides takes the series to its next logical step: what if Professor Moriarty had a necromancer in his organization and, after Reichenbach Falls, that necromancer tried to bring Moriarty back in a new body? With Holmes in hiding to keep up the presence of being dead so he can track down remaining members of Moriarty's crew, it is up to the Watsons, Nan Killian, Sarah Lyon-White, the parrot Grey and the ...more
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
The latest installment in the Elemental Masters series, despite having left behind everything that made the series interesting, is a bit of a let down. Lackey focuses on the world of Nan and Sarah, with Sherlock Holmes and John Watson from the previous few books. Taking place in the period where Sherlock had faked his death, we are further removed from the Elemental Masters part and mainly revolves around the absence of Holmes. Once again putting way too much of the book from the viewpoint of ...more
Over the winter holidays I wanted light, happy, triumph-over-evil stories and Lackey is always good for that, so I binged all the available Elemental Masters books. This is a broad review for books 1 to 13.

I could see myself really loving this series in my teen years. Every main character is female. It champions women's rights, the poor, the foreign, with realistic history of the hardships and prejudice in Britain in the early 1990s for these folks. It empowers women, especially those who wanted
I love The Elemental Masters and Nan and Sarah, especially in this Sherlock Holmes side series. However before I go any further, I must express my surprise and dismay that whoever edited this book before publication did an abysmal job. There are typos, grammatical errors, and even an instance of a character being presented, then presented again several pages later as if she hadn't met them before. I hope that the publisher re-releases this book with updates and revisions because these are things ...more
Brian Palmer
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2019
Although this is listed as #13 in the "Elemental Masters" series, it's really just several books into a crossover series between the "Elemental Masters" and Sherlock Holmes. (I think which began with A Study in Sable). The two lead characters, Nan and Sarah, branch away from the traditional Elemental magics that the series had primarily focused on; they're a medium and a psychic, respectively. In this, they have been invaluable assistants to Sherlock Holmes (who knows nothing of magic, but is ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: october-2019
I’m not going to lie. I significantly prefer the fairy tale retellings in this fantasy series to the Sherlock Holmes pastiches featuring Nan and Sara. I didn’t dislike this book, but I found myself not as invested in the main characters as I could have been. Both women gain new skills and mastery over their abilities, but that is the extent of the character development for them.

Things I did thoroughly enjoy about this book include the expansion of the magical system Lackey has created. I spotted
Silvio Curtis
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've finished my Elemental Masters marathon, and this is sooner than I would have if an interlibrary loan problem wasn't holding up my nonfiction reading plans. This book is so fresh from the press that even though lots of local libraries have it, most of the copies were on loan or else not on the shelves yet. It's a third installment about Nan, Sarah, Holmes, and the Watsons. Holmes has killed his enemy Professor Moriarty but faked his own death so he can more easily deal with the surviving ...more
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Number 13 of the Elemental Masters series and this one is loosely - very loosely - based on what I believe was Bluebeard's Wives.

Once again we have the characters of Nan Killian and Sarah Lyon-White with the birds, Grey and Neville, John and Mary Watson even as they mourn the temporary loss of their friend Sherlock Holmes. Yea, he pops in and out of the book a couple of times as he is busy disrupting and dissolving Moriarty's Organization. There is Suki, Memsa'b and Sahib and the nephews. Even
Margaret D. Pontzer
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the 13th in Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series, which is set in England during the time of Sherlock Holmes and Moriarity. In fact, the book begins with the presumed death of Sherlock Holmes and the death of Moriarity. But psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and the Elemental Masters John and Mary Watson must be vigilant because members of Moriarity's network are still at large. Soon headless bodies of young brides start turning up in the Thames. As more bodies emerge, ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In "The Bartered Brides", Sherlock Holmes is apparently dead, and Lestrade needs the help of Watson, along with Nan and Sarah to solve the crime of who is beheading young women dressed as brides, and throwing the headless corpses in the Thames.

Mercedes Lackey has turned out a gorgeous tale of magic and murder.

The joy of the Elemental Masters books with Sherlock Holmes in them is that Holmes isn't a magician, and has difficulty with the concept, though, being the logical man that he is, when he
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Bluebeard and Holmes and Magic, Oh My! I thoroughly enjoy Holmesian fiction, so I expected to like this book and I did. Holmes is really least in sight, so Nan, Sarah, and Watson shine in this tale. And Lestrade? My favorite quotation was about him: Sarah had thought Lestrade couldn’t get any redder. She had been wrong. He turned from the color of a strawberry to the color of a beet.

So with all this going for it, why was I not totally thrilled with the book? I think the gruesomeness of the
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
It's been a while since I last read any of the Elemental Masters books and it has changed.

It used to be that I could pick up a book and begin reading. While all the stories were set in the same world and there was some overlap of characters, there was no real story arc, other than "good vs evil" and "magic vs nonmagic."

So when I saw this book at the library, I didn't think there'd be an issue. Sure, I hadn't read the last five books but I'd read the first five books without a problem and not in
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Moriarty and Sherlock are gone, but Moriarty's cohorts are still at large. Though Nan, Sarah, and the Watsons have received a mysterious note that leads them to believe Sherlock might still be alive, he remains in hiding and it is Watson that Lestrade approaches when headless bodies of young girls are found in the Thames.

I don't care if this is formulaic, I still enjoy the characters. I love that John and Mary Watson are Elemental Masters of water and air, while Sherlock refuses to believe in
Mar 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paranormal
Sarah and her parrot, Gray, along with Nan and her raven, Neville, along with John and Mary Watson are devastated when Sherlock Holmes dies, along with Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. But, Sherlock is able to get word to them that he is not dead, but laying low in order to wrap up Moriarty's gang. Little do they know that Moriarty's spirit is now being kept by a Master of Spirits, the most rare of all Elemental Masters. This evil magician is working to reincarnate Moriarty by harnessing ...more
D.L. Morrese
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Headless bodies of girls and young women are washing up on the shores of the Thames. Professor Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes are both reported dead. Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard comes to Dr. Watson, Nan, and Sarah (see previous book in the series) for help. A late Victorian fantasy with a necromancer, ghosts, and magic results.

Historical details lend a touch of verisimilitude to this fantasy story. This has held true for all the books in this series. These details often relate to trivial
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5, really. Ending was rather anti-climatic, although I thought most of the rest wasn't too bad. I do wish Lackey had re-read her own book, The Serpent's Shadow, because Aldercroft's position on women, foreigners, and "tradesmen" being in the lodge does not match the Nan and Sarah books very well. That's always bothered me (although if we get to see Lord Peter Almsley in any of these, I don't believe I'd be upset). The other thing I didn't care for was the minor character of "Old Don," who is a ...more
Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)
This is another series that plays on the Sherlock Homes character. Here he is missing and psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and Elemental Masters John and Mary Watson have to solve a new mystery. At first there are just the headless bodies and no clue as to where they came from or why they are missing their heads. This is the first book of the series I have read but at no time did I feel lost. Lackey is a master at giving clues to the backstory in small easy to find snippets usually ...more
Katie Whitt
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. This pains me to write but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I’d hoped. My main problem with the books featuring Sherlock is that there really isn’t enough Sherlock and in the beginning of this one he literally leaves to go do off screen work and then reappears at the end. There was so little Sherlock! Plus the narrative device of spending so much time with the villain means that the scenes with our heroes is just them playing catch up to information the reader already has. Also, the ...more
Ah, what a delight it always is to read the newest installment of the Elemental Masters series from Mercedes Lackey!

The book jacket proclaims that this is the book in which Sherlock Holmes & Professor Moriarty have gone over Reichenbach Falls to their deaths.

So, this is the book where the game is surely afoot but John & Mary Watson, Sarah and Nan, and Lord Alderscroft are on their own trying to hunt down & stop a serial killer while mourning their dear friend and colleague Sherlock
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Play Book Tag: The Bartered Brides by Mercedes Lackey - 4 stars 1 13 Nov 02, 2018 12:41PM  

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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 ...more

Other books in the series

Elemental Masters (1 - 10 of 15 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)
  • Unnatural Issue (Elemental Masters, #6)
  • Home from the Sea (Elemental Masters, #7)
  • Steadfast (Elemental Masters #8)
  • Blood Red (Elemental Masters, #9)