Welcome to the December 16th review stop on the blog tour for Sirens Unbound by Laura Engelhardt, organized by iRead Book Tours and don’t forget to come back tomorrow for my review of book 2, Mages Unbound. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, guest posts, interviews, other reviews, and a giveaway! (More on that at the end of this post.)
Special thanks to Laura Engelhardt, who mailed me physical copies of both books to review for this tour! You’ll see photos of my copies decorating both posts. Note that they don’t quite look like the official cover images inserted into the “about the book” sections in each post because the (signed!!) copy I received of Sirens Unbound is the first edition with a different cover, and the copy I received of Mages Unbound is an ARC printed before publication day and as such has a “not for resale” ribbon overlaid on the cover design. I was genuinely so excited to see that because I’ve never received a physical ARC before!
Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means there is no additional cost to you if you shop using my links, but I will earn a small percentage in commission. A program-specific disclaimer is at the bottom of this post.
About the Book
Fifth Mage War Book One
by Laura Engelhardt
Published 29 July 2019
Genre: Paranormal Women’s Fiction
Page Count: 548
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
“I am not calling upon you to forgive the Aos Sí. I am calling upon you to allow us to forgive ourselves. We cannot be whole while we allow this atrocity to continue.”
Almost 1,500 years ago, the Third Mage War ended, leaving the losing fae army imprisoned in the Yorkshire moors. Now Cordelia Bant has taken up the cause of fae freedom among the sirens on Atlantis, while her mundane sister Amy has partnered with the U.S. government and the Danjou mages in the race to cure magical blindness. As each sister struggles to overcome setbacks, their brother Thomas crosses oceans to save an indentured mage from the Brazilian vampire who seeks to destroy her, and the Australian mages who desire her power.
Actions have consequences, and decisions made by the Bant family will herald the start of what could be the most destructive war the world has ever seen.
In an adventure that spans the globe, scientific discoveries and magical breakthroughs will astound, as prophecies are fulfilled, bindings are broken, and truth conquers deception. This is an epic tale of a magical, modern Earth, where truth is elusive and free will, a mirage.
What readers are saying:
- “Finally, a fantasy where the characters are out of high school!”
- “What a complex and intricate world!”
- “I loved the political intrigue. Can’t wait for the next book!”
My Rating: 4 Stars
Consider “liking” my review on Goodreads
I was sent a review copy of Sirens Unbound by the author Laura Engelhardt in exchange for an honest review as part of my participation in a blog tour for this title and its sequel through iRead Book Tours. Thank you to Laura for sending the book! This has not swayed my opinion. My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
Sirens Unbound is the first book in a series that will cover the Fifth Mage War (as the series it titled), set to take place in an alternate reality version of our own modern world. Mages, fae, and other magical beings are real, and prophecies about the next big war are coming to pass. One prophecy speaks of a Pivot, one who attracts magic to herself and will be the pivotal influence in the coming war. Another speaks of the Breaker, one who can break magical bindings. Mira, a siren, and her adult children are entangled in these prophecies in more ways than even she has realized.
This book is told through multiple points of view: Mira’s and those of three of her adult children, Cordelia, Amy, and Thomas. Mira is off in the world doing what sirens do best, and only tolerating and being tolerated by the rulers and politicians of the magical world. Cordelia, awakened to her siren powers, is determined to free the Aos Sí from their iron-laden prison on the British Isles. Thomas, an awakened male siren, is quietly living his siren life in Brazil when he falls in love with an indentured mage named Kyoko. Amy is a latent siren, unaware of the fae or sirens but well aware of mages, who is working on a surgical procedure to restore magical sight to those who don’t have it but should.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it quickly. What an interesting world and impending war Laura has established! I particularly enjoyed Amy’s POV chapters, though as the Thomas and Kyoko storyline got more interesting I started to really look forward to those chapters as well. I was certainly not Mira’s biggest fan, and I laughed out loud when Kyoko admits “Thomas, I don’t like your mother; I feel the need to slap her in te face, to scratch out her eyes, to-” (p.233, first edition) By this point, I shared those feelings!
While the different POVs in this book were all written well, sometimes it felt like there was an overwhelming number of different character’s heads to be in and jump between. This feeling was compounded by the fact that some scene transitions felt like they were going to be from another character’s POV when they weren’t. For example, the beginning of a new scene in chapter 19 opens with “Kyoko woke up to the sound of birds and the ocean” and goes on to describe how she’s feeling. When I read this paragraph I thought we were jumping into Kyoko’s POV, but this was a continuation of Thomas’. The majority of this book is written in the limited omniscient third person, only giving the reader insight into the mind of the current POV character, but in cases like the paragraph just mentioned, sometimes it breaks into omniscient and the reader gets a glimpse into a non-POV character’s mind. Because of this, I was never sure how many POVs we were going to end up with by the end of the book. (I’m pretty sure it’s four.) I’m equally torn between wanting more insight into characters like Kyoko (especially Kyoko) and feeling like there are already too many points of view.
Readers who are more reserved in terms of sexual content should be warned that sirens work in fertility magic, and so there are a few scenes of sirens (mostly Mira) “extracting” fertility from mundane humans. I would only describe this as graphic or explicit the first time it happens, which takes place in chapter 10. My thoughts reading that passage were “Holy **** she’s going full succubus on this poor dude!”
Overall this is a great start to what sounds like a great series. If I’m not mistaken this is the author’s debut fiction novel, and as such it’s not perfect, but it’s good. It is very clearly the first book in a series with a greater story arc and function as the set-up. This book doesn’t resolve most of the conflicts it presents, which is to be expected in a series, but it doesn’t feel like there has been any major resolution at all. It feels like I’ve read part of a longer book and the next chapter just wasn’t there. Since I happen to have the next book sitting right beside me, that’s not a problem, but potential readers should be aware that this doesn’t work as a stand-alone read. It’s well and truly the start of a series and should be read as such. I can’t wait to start book 2!
About the Author
An avid sf/fantasy reader, Laura Engelhardt writes the kind of book she likes to read: fantasy with intricate worlds and complex characters facing moral dilemmas. She started writing plays in college, then moved to Germany, where she continued to write while teaching ESL to executives. After moving back to the U.S., she supported her playwriting by teaching ballroom dance and working retail. Deciding that living in her parents’ attic wasn’t for her, Laura went to law school and then spent the next seventeen years as a lawyer and compliance officer in New York City. In 2017, she quit Wall Street and began helping people resolve disputes as a mediator and arbitrator. She now lives in New Jersey with her family.
One lucky follower of the tour will win a $20 Target gift card, open internationally until December 22nd. Don’t forget to visit other stops on the tour! The schedule with blog links can be found here.a Rafflecopter giveaway
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