Snow White meets Edwardian England in Mercedes Lackey's novel: The Serpent's Shadow, book one of her Elemental Masters series.
Doctor Maya Witherspoon faces many challenges in the land of her father's birth. Daughter of a British physician and a high caste Brahmin woman, she faces discrimination for her mixed blood. She also dares to be a doctor in a male-dominated world. But how could she deny the training begun at the side of her beloved father?
These challenges are small compared to the threat that sent her to this strange land from her native India. Her training was not the only heritage she'd inherited. Her mother, Surya, had been a priestess of Indian magics before becoming outcast for her marriage to one of the hated Englishmen. But despite Maya's burgeoning magic, her mother had refused to train her. With fearful eyes, the only answer her mother gave was, "Your magic is of your father's blood, not mine."
Maya never had the chance to learn what that meant. Before dying in a cholera epidemic, Surya tried to warn her of some danger, but in her fever, the only intelligible words had been the name "Shivani" and to beware the serpent's shadow. Not long after her mother's death, her father had been bitten by a krait hidden in his boot. Only magic could explain how the snake had managed to sneak past her mother's seven pets: a Hanuman langur, a saker falcon, a Eurasian eagle-owl, an Indian ring-necked parrot, a peacock, and a pair of mongooses.
That had been threat enough to send Maya, along with her household, across the seas to England, to hide from her mysterious enemy. However, she knows that it won't be long before she has to face the threat. Only training in Western magic will be able to save her. But who would be willing to train a half-caste woman? And will she master her abilities in time to save her life when the vindictive pursuer catches up to her?
Mercedes Lackey creates rich worlds populated with believable characters. This series is no exception. She captures the flavor of the time period and mixes it with the magic of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. A world where those with magical ability can see elemental creatures such as naiads, selkies, fauns, and more. A world also containing Dark Path magicians and sinister elementals. And not everything is as it appears.
Be sure to watch for reviews of the other books in the series, each with its own fairy tale theme.