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This review also appears on my blog.2.5 starsIn the newest Elemental Masters novel, Mari Prothero learns that her fathers preternatural fishing and sailing abilities arent just skill; long ago her family made a pact with the Selchs, a type of Selkie, and in order to keep the pact, Mari must marry a Selch, have children, and give her husband and one child back to the sea. But what nobody counted on was Maris abilities as a Water master and her genuine affection for the man she marries.Anyone who reads my reviews knows Im a Mercedes Lackey freak. Her books helped get me through adolescence and theyre still comfort-reads now. I love almost everything shes written, and will defend her themes and characters to the death.I didnt love this.Home from the Sea may be the weakest Lackey-only (not counting co-written books) work Ive read to date, and thats including the Collegium Chronicles novels that Ive fussed about (and am sincerely hoping the last one improves on). There are several reasons for this judgment:1. Theres no story here. Or rather, theres a story, but theres not enough story for a full-length novel, not even one that doesnt even hit 300 pages in ebook. There was a lot of padding, and not stuff that helped the plot or ending of the book at all. In several places, chunks of other stories or books (those involving Nan, Sarah, and their birds) were essentially copy-pasted rather than summarized, retold, or even discussed. And they were chunks that contained information that set up events later in the book, but we didnt need them verbatim. The actual story is a blend of several Celtic myths--Tam Lin, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, the Two Magicians, etc.--and could have been quite charming if the stuff not related to the story hadnt been such a slog.2. The characters are utterly unsympathetic. I never really connected with Nan and Sarah, anyway, and they make up half the book. But then theres Mari, who in no way lives up to the usual spunky Lackey heroine--at least until the very end of the book, when the trials to reclaim her husband and sons begin. Shes utterly flat, boring, and uninteresting. Her father, Daffyd, seems okay until Mari realizes that hes not as special as she thought because his fishing is augmented by the pact. At that point, she suddenly decides hes a cad. Theres not enough character development or exposition to set this up for us; all we have is Maris opinion.3. The villains are mustache-twirlers of the first degree. The constable--who is utterly unnecessary to the plot at all except that the real villain spends all his time in the ocean--is a one-dimensional bully whose reasons for tormenting the Protheros are never revealed. The other characters speculate about his reasons, but nothing solid is ever offered. And then at the end, everyone--Nan, Sarah, the Water Elementals, Earth Elementals, and Robin Goodfellow himself--gangs up on him to make him look like a complete boob. The Selch chief is also a bully who hates it when something doesnt go exactly his way--even if it goes generally his way--and exists only to make life for Mari and her husband as miserable as possible.4. Theres no real tension. The story went forward, for the most part, with a very single-minded forward thrust that said that this is how this story goes and nothing is going to get in its way. Maybe its just because its based on a fairy tale and therefore the structure of the story was already laid out, but in this case I feel Lackey dropped the ball on staying within the structure but still giving us a story we could see possibly going terribly terribly wrong.The ending isnt bad--it actually feels more like a classic Lackey than anything else in the book--but it doesnt make up for the drag it took to get to the end of the book.Im very sad that I didnt like this one and have to give it so few stars. I truly hope that the next few Lackey novels on their way make up for this fumble.

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