closer to home book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

Closer to Home is the first book in the Herald Spy series, which is actually part of a larger world. I didn’t know that when I started this book, but the good news is that the story doesn’t really need any more back story than what is provided.

We meet our intrepid pair as they are coming home from their previous adventures (I assume chronicled in a different series!). They are all looking forward to being back home. Mags and Amily are planning to get married but they still have Mags’ father to deal with. Surprisingly, her father has had a few months to get used to the idea and is fairly receptive to the union. Their return turns out to be very happy all around.

Shortly after arriving home, Mags and Amily get tasked with keeping the peace between two warring families that both decide to show up with plans of getting their children married. The King puts them in charge of keeping the families apart. Easier said than done. Especially since the families don’t try very hard to avoid each other.

Along with the special assignment, the pair has a slew of new duties to attend to. Both are very busy and do not get to spend much time together. Mags is putting together a nice spy ring for the king, using young orphans from the poor quarters of the city. Lots of small troubles, but a big problem is brewing under it all. Most of it originates from the domineering way the highborn treat their family–like vassals and not as a family at all.

I’ve heard a lot of people rave about Mercedes Lackey and how great she is. While I found the story to be good and enjoyed it, I was not impressed at any genius at all. It was a decent story with good characters. Several of them were way too wise in my opinion–Mags was almost a Mary Sue. While I understand many of the issues surrounding women being subjugated in the home, the preaching was a little heavy handed in this story. Especially since it was referring to a way of life that at least in the U.S. is mostly non-existent.  We do have plenty of current issues, but this one only tangentially touches on them. I’m sure I’ll try another of her books, but this one doesn’t put me in any rush.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.