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Mages Unbound – 5 Star Book Review

Welcome to the December 17th review stop on the blog tour for Mages Unbound by Laura Engelhardt, organized by iRead Book Tours and don’t forget to check yesterday’s post for my review of book 1, Sirens 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

Mages Unbound
Fifth Mage War Book Two
by Laura Engelhardt

Published 18 November 2020

Genre: Paranormal Women’s Fiction
Page Count: 450
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!

It’s ironic to find out your whole life has been a lie when you’re married to a truth-teller.

If only Mary could find some humor in it. But when her little sister, Cordelia, shows up on her doorstep, she’s finally ready to sift through the fiction that’s been her reality for the past fifty years. To find out what it truly means to live in a world of magick.

Her epiphany can’t come too soon because not only do her siblings need her, Mary’s restart may be the only thing that can save the world from an utter melt-down (and not just the emotional kind).

While Mary and Cordelia grapple with faeries and the FBI in America, their brother Thomas is trapped in a high-stakes game of mage politics in Australia. Back in Boston, Amy can’t even see through the fog of magick to button up her own blouse.

Can Mary pull herself together in time to rescue her family from the coming war?

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Sirens Unbound Mages Unbound

My Review

My Rating: 5 Stars
Consider “liking” my review on Goodreads

I was sent an ARC of Mages Unbound by Laura Engelhardt in exchange for an honest review as part of my participation in the blog tour for this title through iRead Book Tours. Thank you Laura for sending me books 1 and 2 in the Fifth Mage War series and thank you to iRead for making this happen! This has not swayed my opinion. My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.

Mages Unbound ARC

Mages Unbound picks up right where Sirens Unbound left off. I said in my review of Sirens that the last chapter didn’t feel like the end of a book and I expected that the opening chapter of Mages would feel like I was still reading the same volume, and I was correct. As such, I would strongly recommend that readers read these books in the intended order and not attempt to jump into the series mid-story. You will not be afforded any backstory interludes or worldbuilding expositions that were already covered in book one.

With that said, I loved the additional world building we got in Mages Unbound. In the beginning, while Cordelia is visiting her sister Mary, a low-grade mage technician stops by to fix the garbage disposal… because it’s an enchanted garbage disintegrator that runs on silica salts, and adding too much silica waste into it (such as broken glass) disrupts the magic. I love that! It’s such a small part of this alternate version of our world, and the plot demanded a reason for them to encounter a mage, but it made the world so much more interesting.

[Minor spoilers for the previous book in this paragraph:] The breaker mage has broken the spell (geas) that prevented active sirens from revealing anything about their truth to latent sirens, which means Mary and Amy are now being let in on all the family’s secrets. Mira is alive, she, Cordelia and Thomas are all sirens, Amy and Mary are latent sirens, and there are prophecies that foretell the heavy involvement of this family in the impeding fifth mage war in multiple ways. Throughout the course of Mages Unbound we see Thomas and Cordelia unknowingly continue to cement their upcoming roles in the inevitable war as the people and beings they’re bound to aid and the oceans they interact with make decisions for them. Amy studies under the tutelage of Ted and Jonas to understand and weild her new mage sight. Mira finds herself out of sorts with a siren illness called “The Heat” and takes risks she wouldn’t otherwise take. Mary comes into some power of her own. An anti-magic terrorist group sends suicide bombers to destroy strategic targets. This book doesn’t slow down for a second!

In my previous review I liked Amy’s point of view best, didn’t care for Mira at all, and was interested to hear more from Kyoko. In this book so many point of view characters are in the same places at the same time that we no longer get one mind at a time in most chapters, but Kyoko has definitely been added as an intentional POV character, which was a pleasant surprise. Mira has grown on me, and so has Mike (Mary’s husband.) My favourite characters in this book were Amy once again, but also Ted and Cordelia.

POV changes and chapter breaks came at more sensible times in book two, making it a much easier read, and the additional world-building gems scattered throughout added so many little surprises to discover and enjoy as the story progressed. It’s also clear that Laura Angelhardt has polished her writing skills and become more confident between the two books, and I’m happy to report that this book does not suffer from the dreaded “middle book syndrome.” On the contrary, it shines quite brightly all on its own!

As noted above regarding book one and in my previous review of book one, these books are being written as portions of a greater story. While this one ties up more string than the last one did and leaves the reader feeling a little more satisfied as they wait for the next instalment, it did once again feel like there could be another chapter if there were more pages to turn. At this point I don’t expect to feel like the book came to its own conclusion in book 3 either and will have to wait for book 4 to get that grand conclusion. That’s okay! I’m eagerly looking forward to reading the next books! I mention this again in case anyone is considering picking this up as a stand-alone. It is not a stand-alone. It doesn’t start at the beginning and it doesn’t end at the end. This is simply 430 pages from the middle, and early in the middle at that.

More, please! I wish I had the next book to crack into right away like I did finishing book one.

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Sirens Unbound Mages Unbound Pebbles

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.

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Giveaway Alert!

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.

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Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Jenna is the artist/illustrator and author behind Westveil Publishing and its sub-banner platforms Jenna Gets Creative and The Westveil Archives. She live in Newfoundland, Canada with her husband, daughter, and feline overlords.

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