Today’s team review is from Elanor.
Elanor has been reading Mississippi Missing by Laura Engelhardt
This is a luscious, playful fantasy with an enchanting cast.
Middle-aged Mary finds herself transformed into a river nymph. She uses music to communicate with all bodies of water and sings life-changing spells. She is simultaneously one of the most powerful magical beings in a world thronging with magical races, and a complete newbie in their society. When the soul of the Mississippi River vanishes, she sets out on a quest to find and return it, navigating the tricks and allegiances of the fae who try to help or hinder her.
Laura Engelhardt draws on a history of fae characters, like Titania and Morgan le Fay, but her world is fresh and inventive. The faerie lords pitch between playful jester types and dangerous trickster gods – I particularly enjoyed the frog prince Kresimir, who accompanies Mary on her journey.
The world of the book is suffused with sensory magic, affecting the characters’ appearances, dress, environment and perceptions. Engelhardt writes beautifully of music, colour and nature in a way that is both vivid and totally fantastical.
I didn’t always know what was happening with the back-story of the world and the magic, particularly in the first half of the book. That’s not uncommon in a fantasy – but some readers have more tolerance for this than others. (The book is described as standalone, but Engelhardt has published two previous novels set in this world, which I haven’t read… yet!). It definitely swept me along. I loved the tension of Mary trying to hold onto her own voice against the tumult of big characters and current events, and the outcome is really satisfying.
When mages hijack the Mississippi, it’s Mary’s job to get it back
Mary was a mundane middle-aged woman adjusting to her role as an empty-nester when she drank from a magical chalice and became fae. A few months later, she’s still adapting to her new life when the Mississippi River suddenly disappears.
The only river nymph left, Mary sets out to find it. A were-jaguar, frog prince, and multiple fae lords entangle themselves in her quest, turning what should have been an exciting adventure across the American Midwest into a treacherous journey fraught with ancient magick, twisted faerie “games,” and even a glimpse into the Hereafter to see what awaits on the Other Side.
Mary is determined to rescue the river, but isn’t sure she’s ruthless enough to become an avenging faerie. Can she save the Mississippi’s soul without sacrificing her own?
Mississippi Missing is a standalone novel set in the contemporary fantasy world of the Fifth Mage War. It’s a spiritual story of new beginnings, a heartfelt tale of remaining true to yourself, even when you don’t know who you are.