Mercedes Lackey's magical Elemental Masters series recasts familiar fairy tales in a richly-imagined alternate Victorian world
Ninette Dupond was a dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet. She had been very lucky—if she had not been pretty, and a natural dancer, she could only have become what her mother had been: a washerwoman.
But Ninette’s good luck ended the day that the lead dancer sprained her ankle and Ninette was chosen to dance her part at a matinee. Her reviews had been very good—too good. Shortly thereafter, Ninette had been fired in an attempt to soothe the wounded ego of the ballet’s primary soloist.
Alone, unemployed, and filled with despair, Ninette had returned to her apartment to find a thin, rangy, tabby-striped tomcat sitting on her windowsill. He seemed like just another stray, until abruptly he spoke to her, mind-to-mind.
Ninette though she was going mad, but the cat offered her an alternative to a life of destitution, albeit a very odd one. He proposed that she impersonate a renowned Russian ballerina, Nina Tchereslavsky, and go to work in a specific music hall in Blackpool, England. The cat also told her that he would take care of her in every way—he would somehow convey the English and Russian languages to her, supply her with money, and guide her every move. With no other option open to her, she place her life in his paws.
What Ninette didn’t know was that the cat was an Elemental Spirit sent to protect her, and that the music hall in Blackpool was owned by an Elemental Master. But she also didn’t know that the real Nina Tchereslavsky no longer existed. For the real Nina had been “absorbed” by an Elemental Spirit of the darkest kind that was now bent on Ninette’s destruction….