5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Serpent's Shadow (Elemental Masters, Book 1) (Hardcover)
For all its ostensible modernity, this novel disappoints. The feminism -- such as it is -- is anachronistic and quite surface -- we are beaten over the head with it in exposition, rather than shown it through description. Maya's attitude doesn't ring true for a woman of the time and background provided. (Her theories are fine, it's the way they're given to us. People who are really under opression are never that consistently confident, as least not inside. It's nearly impossible to avoid internalizing some of the views of the oppressive society, particularly if one has never known a significantly different alternative; as India at the time embraced some of the same shameful attitudes toward women as the West did, and as it was under British control at the time, it does not count as a "significantly different" alternative in this respect. Some internal self-doubt, and the overcoming of it, would have made Maya much more convincing, sympathetic, and endearing -- at the very least, it would have given her some levels.)
Furthermore, the novel pretty thoroughly betrays its feminism anyway, underscoring instead of combating the notion that Woman must be protected, instructed, and rescued by Man. It makes all the preceding quasi-feminist rhetoric ring extremely false.
(Or to be kinder, I can say that the modern tone of the first section of the novel does not jibe well with the following events -- if you're gonna be anachronistic, stick with it all the way through.) I now know that this book is meant to be somewhat based on the story "Snow White," and so I could forgive the fairy-tale treatment, but I choose not to.
The portrayal of Hindu culture is rather superficial as well; however, I enjoy the minor characters very much, particularly the clinic patients. The clinic itself was an excellent idea and setting, and used well, I think. (I don't know how the English will feel about the representation of their various accents, though.) I remain a firm Lackey fan, but this one will not be remaining in my collection.