Book Review: The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey

Posted February 4, 2022 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey
Genres: Historical, Paranormal Fantasy
Published by DAW on March 4, 2003
Pages: 448
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Closer to Home, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, Silence, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar, A Scandal in Battersea, The Hills Have Spies, The Bartered Brides, Dragon's Teeth, Eye Spy, Breaking Silence, Pathways, The Case of the Spellbound Child, Jolene, Passages, Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, The Serpent's Shadow, The Oathbound, The White Gryphon, The Silver Gryphon, Beyond, Spy, Spy Again, Oathbreakers, The Lark and the Wren, Phoenix and Ashes, The Wizard of London, The Robin and the Kestrel, Oathblood, Exile's Honor, The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley, Owlflight, Exile’s Valor

Third in the Elemental Masters historical paranormal fantasy series and revolving around magical masters and mages of England. The focus is on the young Marina Roeswood and is based on Sleeping Beauty.

My Take

A cozy tale of friendship, yet with a horrible evil awaiting the babe cursed at her christening.

I adore the sound of Marina’s bedroom in Cornwall. The painting of the walls and the furniture carved especially for her. Sigh. Lackey describes the farmhouse and the surrounding lands with such skill that I want to live there. Although, I would want to upgrade a number of things. Indoor plumbing, for one. Similar to The Serpent’s Shadow, 2, the good guys are amazing in their work and treatment of their fellow man and the world around them.

It’s a free-spirited household with intelligence, conversation, and compassion and a daily round of tasks. I certainly enjoyed the talk of the meals they enjoyed — that kitchen magic from Margherita’s Earth ability comes in extra handy.

Then there’s Briareley. I adore Dr Pike’s motives and plans for those who are suffering.

There’s a bit on the restrictions suffered by women and each social class in this world. Lackey also points out the environmental issues harming the world of this time period as well as the state of the poor. Issues we still ignore.

Lackey uses third person global subjective point-of-view from the perspectives of a variety of characters, so we know what many of them are thinking, feeling, and doing. We certainly learn a lot from Marina and her conflicted feelings about her “abduction”.

As for Madame? Ick, those meals, the lessons, that maid!!

The sound of the work involved in renovating Briareley — and the type of aid Pike got, lol. I could use some of that, *more laughter*. At the least it makes a healthy contrast to the evil of Arachne and Reggie. Evil. Pure evil!

It’s full of everyday action that can be good or bad with extreme characters and a story that moves along.

The Story

It’s Marina’s christening and her parents’ friends have gathered to grant their child gifts. Then Arachne appears at the child’s crib and grants her — Death, a curse to take effect before her eighteenth birthday.

An evil gift that Marina’s parents and their friends counter by sending Marina away from them. With friends who will love and teach her until all is safe.

It’s now Marina’s seventeenth year and her aunt and uncles are terrified . . .

The Characters

Oakhurst Manor
Located in Devon, Hugh and Alanna Roeswood, both Earth Masters, celebrate the birth of baby Marina, born with an affinity for Water, who will develop a love for music.

Sebastian and Margherita Tarrant are artists — he’s a successful painter and a Fire Master while she’s an Earth Master, particularly of hearth and home, skilled with needle and tapestry-shuttle. Thomas Buford, Margherita’s brother, is also an Earth Master whose gift comes out in woodworking. All three live together in a farmhouse, Blackbird Cottage, in Cornwall in a small village of a few hundred people and are childhood friends of the Roeswoods. Sarah does the plain cooking and other kitchen work. Jenny does the housecleaning and is the maid-of-all-work. Hired John Parkin, Sarah’s nephew, does the yardwork and whatever the “uncles” can’t do. John Junior wants to learn carpentry.

Maggie Potter is the local seamstress. Peter and Rosie Hunter run the grocers, dry goods, and post office. “Madame Deremiere” is a more skilled dressmaker located in Holsworthy.

The outspoken and fashionable Elizabeth, Lady Hastings, a Water Master, a Magus Major, was Alanna’s first friend outside her schoolmates. Stephen, Lord Hastings, is her normal husband who knows nothing of his wife’s abilities. Lady Helene Overton, an Air Master, was Hugh’s and Alanna’s parents’ contemporary. Roderick Bacon, a yeoman farmer and Air Master, is very powerful.

Arachne Chamberton née Roeswood is Hugh’s estranged older half-sister without magic. She had married Allan Chamberton, a manufacturer of pottery. Reginald “Reggie” is their son and a lazy, cunning, and arrogant defrocked “priest”. Mary Anne is the wicked “maid” assigned to Marina. Oakhurst’s original staff include Sally, a sympathetic maid who’s seeing Peter, a footman who knows the social requirements, Mrs Hunter, and Hibdon. Brownie is the steadiest horse in the stables while Beau, an iron-mouthed hunter, has a wilder side.

Briareley Hall is . . .
. . . a great estate that had to be sold. Dr Andrew Pike, an Earth Master (with an Air Mage mother), bought it for a sanitarium. His patients include Ellen; Simon Ashford; Craig Newton, who is a chess prodigy; the old Roger Smith who adores chess; Diana Gorden; and, Jamie Cooper among others. His staff includes Diccon and Eleanor, who is the Sensitive female ward nurse. Pansy is the lone horse.

The Reverend Clifton Davies is intelligent with a love for chess, a bit of a rebel, and a Clairvoyant Sensitive with some Air magic. Mrs Havershay is the eldest of the Parish Society. Miss Horn, a younger part of the Parish Society, has some concerns about Marina. Miss Eldergast is the very fashionable dressmaker.

A Circle of Masters are based in London and led by the misogynistic Lord Aldercroft.

Exeter is . . .
. . . where one of the Chambertons’ potteries is located. Dr Thane is the alcoholic doctor Arachne employs.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a background of deep purple with paler purple, elaborate wrought iron gates with flowers and skulls. An insert on the right, framed in the same wrought iron showcases Marina, her hair piled on her head, sitting in a leafy bower, raising water up from the brook at her feet. Even here skulls surround her, peering at her. At the very top is a questioning epigraph in white, as is the author’s name below it, just above the top of the frame of the insert. The title is in a light turquoise to the left of the insert. Beneath that, in white, is the series info.

The title is where Marina is forced, into The Gates of Sleep.

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