I received a copy of Jolene in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Jolene is the fifteenth novel in Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series, only, there's a pretty major twist this time around. This novel is set in America.
Anna May Jones has never exactly been healthy. The daughter of a coal miner, growing up in a small town with little access to clean food and water, Anna May got used to this life. Until the day she was sent to live with her aunt, with the hopes of finally getting better.
From that moment onward, Anna May's life changed forever. It turns out that her aunt is a witchy-woman and an Elemental Master, both of which Anna May herself has plenty of potential in. This is the setting for her adventure, as she falls in love and takes great risk to save those she cares about.
“Ain't my fault I'm sickly. Not like I did this t' m'self.”
There are a few things I really want to start this review off with. First, I just want to say that I absolutely adored the fact that Mercedes Lackey included a warning at the beginning of this book. It went into detail warning readers about some of the triggering subjects contained within. Honestly, I wish more books were this self-aware. Then again, this is Mercedes Lackey we're talking about, so I'm not surprised that she thought it through this far.
Second, Jolene is written with a very strong dialect, specifically an Appalachian accent. I'm far from an expert on that dialect, so I'm not going to comment on the accuracy. But I do know that not all readers love it when strong dialects make their way into books. For what it's worth, it isn't as intrusive as one might imagine. It gets better over the course of the novel, as we learn more about Anna May, her life, and her adventures.
Overall I think that Jolene was a wonderfully written novel – Mercedes Lackey is a talented author, and it really shows here. The detail put into describing everything from the food to the land is simply beautiful. It does, however, slow down the book by quite a lot.
I'd say that the main plot isn't introduced until about the halfway mark, which should give you a solid idea of what you're in for here. Still, it was a worthwhile read, especially for fans of the author or the series.
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The beloved Elemental Masters series moves to America for the first time in a rich retelling of The Queen of the Copper Mountain, set against the backdrop of Tennessee coal country.
Anna May Jones is the daughter of a coal miner, but a sickly constitution has kept her confined to the house for most of her life. Hoping to improve her daughter’s health—and lessen the burden on their family—Anna's mother sends her to live with her Aunt Jinny, a witchy-woman and an Elemental Master, in a holler outside of Ducktown.
As she settles into her new life, Anna learns new skills at Aunt Jinny’s side and discovers that she, too, has a gift for Elemental magic that Jinny calls “the Glory”. She also receives lessons from a mysterious and bewitching woman named Jolene, who assures her that, with time, Anna could become even more powerful than her aunt.
But with Anna’s increasing power comes increasing notice. Billie McDaran, the foreman of the Ducktown mine, begins to take an interest in Anna and her abilities—even though Anna has already fallen in love with a young man with a talent for stonecarving.
If she wants to preserve the life she has come to love, Anna must use her newfound powers to oppose the foreman and protect those around her.