Annie Oakley has always suspected there is something “uncanny” about herself, but has never been able to put a name to it.
I was granted eARC access to The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley by Mercedes Lackey via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher. Thank you for access! My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
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About the Book
The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley
Elemental Masters #16
by Mercedes Lackey
Published 11 January 2022
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Page Count: 288
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The sixteenth novel in the magical alternate history Elemental Masters series follows sharpshooter Annie Oakley as she tours Europe and discovers untapped powers.
Annie Oakley has always suspected there is something “uncanny” about herself, but has never been able to put a name to it. But when Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show goes on tour through Germany, Bill temporarily hires a new sharpshooter to be part of his “World Wide Congress of Rough Riders”: a woman named Giselle, who also happens to be an Elemental Master of Air. Alongside this new performer, Annie discovers that she and her husband, Frank, are not simply master marksman, but also magicians of rare ability.
As they travel and perform, Annie must use her newfound knowledge and rare skill to combat creatures of the night scattered across the countryside, who threaten both the performers and the locals. Annie’s got her gun, and it’s filled with silver bullets.
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My Rating: 4 Stars
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The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley is the 16th installment in the Elemental Masters series, which happens to be my favourite Mercedes Lackey series, and the first I’ve been able to ARC review since starting my NetGalley journey. I was so excited to get my hands on an early copy and the book did not disappoint! I will say, however, that I was hoping this would be a continuation of From a High Tower (#10) which features a young woman who turns out to have air magic and ends up joining a travelling show as a sharpshooter type performer. Sounds exactly like the setup for an “Annie Oakley was an air mage” story, doesn’t it? I suppose in that way this book disappointed just a little, both in that this isn’t the continuation I hoped it would be and in that this now feels like a bit of a duplicate character in this world. I guess that’s going to happen at some point in such a long-running series that tells a new person’s story each time, though, right?
Oddly enough, however, while this book wasn’t the continuation of the book I thought it might be, it does give a lot more information about an element of this world that snagged my interest in book 9, Blood Red. We learn a lot more about the hunting brotherhood of masters in Europe and how they serve the world in secret. We also learn more about paranormal wolf shifters in this version of the world, and they’re definitely nothing like the furry rival of certain sparkly vampires, if you catch my drift.
I’ve seen some reviewers complain that this book spends too much time on days of magic lessons and days of travelling show performance, but that really is the formula of the series and part of the charm I love. Although there are some characters that make re-appearances here and there throughout the series, each book stands on its own and reading the series in order truly isn’t required. By following the protagonist through every part of their journey from believing they’re mundane humans to discovery of magic to mastery of it, readers entering at absolutely any point in the series can follow along without trouble. I do also feel like we learn new things about the different elementals and associated magic with each magic-learning journey, especially since the series covers magicians of all 4 elements living on multiple continents in various different times in history. Lackey hasn’t run out of new things to introduce yet.
The books in this series that are more based on history than fairytales and folklore are not my favourites. I strongly prefer installments like The Fire Rose (Beauty and the Beast) and The Gates of Sleep (Sleeping Beauty,) though I also adore Reserved for the Cat and I’m not entirely sure what I’d classify that as. It was this love for the fairytale-inspired books that made me pick up Beauty and the Werewolf, which turned out to be part of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series instead and lead me to read the rest of those books. These Elemental Masters books that re-write history and focus on a real or mythical historical figure rather than a completely invented character or a fairytale protagonist always feel a little more forced than the others, and the ones that put Americana in Europe, in particular, occasionally feel a little cheesy.
With that said, this is a solid addition to my favourite Lackey series and I do think fans of Mercedes Lackey and of elemental magic flavoured fantasy in general will enjoy this ride.
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Want more? Check out my recent review of Briarheart by Mercedes Lackey
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