I always enjoy Lackey's "Elemental Masters" books, and this was no exception. Based slightly on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," "The Serpent's Shadow" is the story of Maya, an orphaned Indian half-caste woman living in Edwardian London. She has seven pets who are more than they seem, and who help protect her in her work as a physician in the local charity clinics.Maya is also an untrained, but instinctive, Earth Master -- who is aided and eventually trained by Captain Peter Scott, a retired Naval officer and Water Master -- who uses sympathetic magic for part of her healing.Maya's enemy? An angry and jealous aunt who is a devotee of Kali the Destroyer. Magic battles abound, intertwined with a well-researched tale about life for women, physicians, and the lower classes in London during the early part of the 20th century. Highly recommended.