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The Case of the Spellbound Child
An Elemental Masters novel #14
by Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books; 313 pp; $27
Published: December 2019

In this novel, we have Dr. John and Mary Watson, along with Sarah, Nan and Suki involved in a missing children’s case. (Sherlock is still “dead” from his fight with Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls).

Lord Alderscroft, head of the Elemental Masters in London, decides to send the five off to Dartmoor to the town of Yelverton to follow up on a desperate letter sent to Sherlock written by the mother of two missing children who were sent off to forage on the moor and never returned.  And though the village sent every one off to look, they found no sign of them.  Alderscroft decides the mystery needs investigation because he discovered that for the last four years several children have gone missing, with nothing discovered of their whereabouts. And Dartmoor has plenty of old magic about.

First, the five go to Hampton Court to see if they might be able to talk to Puck, the Oldest Old One, to see if he knows of anything magically amiss out in Dartmoor. And to have him give them the gift of the prevalent dialect so they can easily blend in during their investigations. (He did something similar for them when they needed to speak Welsh on a previous assignment).  Puck, to their delight, shows up and tells them Dartmoor has plenty of places that even he cannot see…they’ve been closed off for ages by magic. But he is not aware of anything dark roaming the moors and snatching children.  He does enable them to speak the Dartmoor dialect.

It’s a wonderful summertime visit out to the moors and hollows of Dartmoor. Nan and Sarah pose as artists and John and Mary as a couple going on a walking tour. The weather is very warm and breezy, and everything is blooming.

As to the missing children, they are all squirreled away in a seemingly derelict cottage far from any town or croft. The reason they have all been kidnapped, besides the fact they are easy targets, is because they are orphans or Travelers’ (gypsy) children. And they all have nascent magical abilities. Their energy is being drained by someone they merely call The Dark One. The Dark One simply uses it for his own gain/enjoyment. This is a not a big plot to take over the magics of the area; it is an act of despicable, self-serving greed.  The children are under fifteen years or so. Some are simply terrified and resigned to their fate. But a few are strong and of the two who were mentioned in the letter and most recently captured, Ellie and Simon, Ellie is determined to escape.

The story follows the efforts of the Masters from London to track down where in all the wild reaches of Dartmoor the children might be held. And the children, led by Ellie, work on escaping.

Even though he is ostensibly deceased, Sherlock shows up a few times, as he is still working. He is seeking out women in the area who have been robbed and even violated by someone they can’t recall clearly. He feels their two cases might be connected.

The clever abilities of the Masters and the stalwart directed scheme of Ellie bring the book to a rousing conclusion.

This another great volume in this series. ~~ Sue Martin

For other titles by Mercedes Lackey click here
For other titles in this series click here

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