DAW Books ~ June 2014 ~ 4 Stars
Did you ever want a grown-up or rather a New Adult version of Little Red Riding Hood? Then, you’ll enjoy this version of what happens when young Rosa goes to visit her teacher and discovers the woman has been murdered by a werewolf in the prologue of this book. Adopted by a Hunt Master, Rosa grows up to be a “Hunter” in her own right. Years later, she’s smart, strong, independent and willing to save the day from vampires, evil werewolves and anything else that threatens the Earth. This particular series revolves around people who can control the proverbial elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water and as an Earth Master, Rosa depends on her allies, brownies, fauns etc to help defeat any adversaries. She winds her way through Germany, Romania, Hungary and Transylvania, not just a young woman on a quest, but also one who is learning who and what she is in a that same quest for her identity although this isn’t a true “coming of age” novel.
She has a career in a time when most women are expected to marry. More at home in hunting gear than a ball gown, Most of the other books in this series have been set in England, but the setting for Blood Red feels authentic. Rosa seeks her prey in places where vampires and werewolves have been known to roam. While she notices when young men are handsome, her focus isn’t on finding a romantic partner – it’s more on finding a trustworthy one. Is Markos, the hereditary werewolf someone she can trust or he someone that she’ll have to kill when he proves to be evil?
A good setting and a strong female lead made this a welcome addition to the Elemental Masters series. Mercedes Lackey has a gift for dialogue and description. The parallels to the classical fairytales were also effective. However, at times the ongoing narration slowed the pace of the story. Yes, the reader needs to know that the various Elemental Masters keep the world a safe place. No, we don’t really need to hear again and again that Rosa is much more comfortable and occasionally complacent about her breeches and boots rather than the customary dresses that most young women wear. A major difference was the lack of a central romance in the plot and some readers may miss it especially since the other books in the series usually included a terrific love match.
Despite the occasional redundancies and too much description at times, this still was a good addition to the series and one that will be fun to re-read since it’s definitely going on my “keeper” shelves.