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ARC Review: Jolene by Mercedes Lackey

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Who knew that the song Jolene and the fairy tale of the Queen of Copper Mountain would go so well together? This is an excellent tribute to Dolly Parton (though near the end it did get a little pointed, what with the echoing “Jolene Jolene Jolene Jolene” and Anna’s plea), and I’m thoroughly convinced that Dolly’s Jolene is, in fact, a Great Elemental.

The most striking thing about this book (aside from Jolene) is the writing. It’s written entirely in dialect – late 1800s/early 1900s Tennessee – and it is scrupulously consistent. It’s easy enough to read once you get into it, but at first glance, it has little in common with today’s English.

As for the story, it reminded me a lot of Anne of Green Gables but with magic. I never got bored – the pace moves along steadily as Anna settles into life on her Aunt Jinny’s homestead and grows into her magic.

I appreciated that while this is an Elemental Masters novel, it doesn’t rely on knowledge of the previous novels, except for some basic world-building. I have read most of them, but not all, and not in the past few years. Luckily this proved no hindrance. I also had some prior knowledge of the tales of the Queen of the Copper Mountain, but while this allowed me to anticipate some plot points, I don’t think it’s necessary to follow the story.

*Thanks to NetGalley and DAW for providing an e-arc to review.