Read or Die


The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley by Mercedes Lackey

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

With an Elemental Masters novel NOT focused on Sherlock Holmes, I had hope for this latest volume. But, looking back over my growing dissatisfaction with the series, perhaps I set my sights too high. I appreciate that Ms. Lackey has returned to the American history roots she first began the series with (though it depends who you ask whether they include The Fire Rose in the series or not). But the longer things carry on, the weaker they become. And this book was no exception.

Rather than keeping a reader hooked with the suspense and intrigue – which the book DOES open with and shows such promise from the initial chapter – you’re treated to a lecture and treatise on the same lessons in magic that have been repeated since the very beginning. There are no revelations or new tidbits to make the teaching exciting or add a flare. Instead, they could have been lifted wholesale from any of the earliest books in the series and dumped into the middle chapters. It’s hard to say whether this is an attempt by Ms. Lackey to make the novel appealing to a new reader or a lack of ideas. (My vote comes down on the latter)

I appreciated the introduction of German mythology, particularly having just finished Marissa Meyer’s Cursed, but even those confrontations were few and lackluster. They offered little in the way of excitement from an otherwise boring dive into the life of a historical figure on the road. More attention was given to the descriptions of the Graf’s household than even the malevolent spirits. And the actual villain of the plot received nothing more than an afterthought tacked onto the final chapter. It read as if Ms. Lackey had utterly forgotten the novel’s premise. And yet the potential remained, given the environment, to plant a constant looming threat. Squandered in favor of flowing descriptions of Art Nouveau.

Even the emotional aspect of the characters fell flat. There was no exploration of Annie’s “curse” and its potential fallout. Ms. Lackey missed an opportunity to connect with a sizeable portion of the population and delve into how they react to the news of not being able to conceive. I wanted to form a bond with Annie and commiserate with her reality. Instead, it was dismissed as an “Oh, well” moment and cast aside as nothing much. It turned her character – and that of Frank – into unrelatable cardboard. I wish Ms. Lackey had thought to spend time with real human beings in preparation for writing this piece. For no other reason than to breathe life into the legend on that aspect alone. It would have made for a stronger female role.

How long do you continue with a series once it disappoints you? I find myself asking that question more and more as I’m disappointed over and over again with these books. They used to divert and entertain me. And now they frustrate and irritate me. I hate to end on a low note, but I feel it may be time to walk away.

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