30. The Gates of Sleep (Elemental Masters) by Mercedes Lackey. 352 p. Published April 2002.
In the second book of the Elemental Masters series, Lackey continues rewriting classic fairy tales, setting them in a later-aged England. In a retake on Sleeping Beauty, Marina is born and her parents have her baby shower. Each of their wizard friends grant Marina a gift. But the sudden appearance of Marina’s aunt Arachne throws the party in chaos. With dark magic, her aunt curses Marina, leaving her to die among the distraught party-goers. One of the guests is able to warp the curse, protecting Marina. Now, if Marina can make it to her 18th birthday, the curse will return upon her aunt.
Marina’s parents, fearing that Arachne will return and fix her curse, hide Marina with their friends in the countryside. There Marina is raised in ignorance of her plight, spending her time posing for her uncle’s portraits and learning to use her magical inheritance over the element of water. But months before her 18th birthday, Arachne finds Marina and claims guardianship with the court. Marina has no choice but to live with her aunt and cousin, and ignorant of her plight, only has her own suspicions to work with. Left relatively alone and without many allies, Marina manages to befriend people in the village and make a few friends. And with her 18th birthday approaching, Marina is going to need all the help she can get because Arachne has discovered how to fix the curse she planted all those years before.
Lackey’s attempt to rewrite a classic tale is admirable, but many of the plot points are left unclear, too much lying on the whim of fate. While the characters are likable, Lackey relies too much on the stark presumption of good versus evil. The Gates of Sleep isn’t the best book in The Elemental Masters series, nor is it the worst. If you enjoy Lackey, you may find this book a fine read.
Rating: 3 out of 5