Wayward Mages (#3)
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Release Date: June 8, 2021
Publisher: Daw Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy
The third book in this contemporary fantasy
series returns to the life of Tessa Andrews as she balances the magical
and mundane worlds.
When her father disappeared into limbo years ago, Tessa’s world fell apart. It took her discovery of magic for her to begin to put things back together. But she hasn’t been able to restore her father from his ghostly half-existence—and he is fading fast.
Magic has a price, and Tessa is learning that it is both steep and deadly. The phoenix wizard who could train her has deserted Tessa. She has friends among the Iron dwarves and harpies, even a lesser demon, and the mysterious Malender with his sinister whip of thorns and fire. But she is still faced with a delicate balancing act.
Then her mother incurs the wrath of the magical world when she writes a dissertation exposing its reality. That is the final straw, as Magic fights back and an assassin accepts a contract on their lives. Tessa must learn to master her new powers as a sorceress, or everyone and everything she loves is doomed.
The Wayward Mage, which is the third installment in author Sara Hanover's urban fantasy series, follows Tessa Andrews as she becomes embroiled in magical mysteries in her quest to help save her father who is an interdimensional ghost living in her basement. Once upon a time, Tessa's father vanished under suspicious circumstances and her old life was destroyed because almost everyone blamed Tessa and her mother for his disappearance. John Andrews disappeared after apparently draining the families money to pay off gambling debts, leaving Tessa and her mother pretty much at the mercy of a great-Aunt.
Since learning about the magical world after Professor Brandard came back to life as the Phoenix wizard, Tessa's life has been anything but boring. An ancient artifact known as the maelstrom stone has embedded itself in Tessa's left palm. The stone itself tends to absorb other relics increasing its powers. The stone has absorbed the Eye of Nimora shards, as well as a cursed ring, and a book on the dark arts which has turned Tessa into a sorceress. On top of everything else, Tessa is a student at a Virginia community college where she plays on the school's field hockey team.
Tessa doesn't have any non-magical friends outside of Evelyn Statler because of what happened to her father. Evelyn really stands out not because of anything she does, but because she seems to have the ability to see prophecies which come in handy whenever trouble and Tessa are around each other. Some positives in her life are her own mother Mary Andrews who is a professor writing her dissertation and has not abandoned her despite everything that has happened over the course of this series. Tessa also has a 1/2 elven, 1/2 lab retriever which seems to have supernatural inclinations.
Even though he pulled a vanishing act, she still has Professor Brandard. Carter Phillips is a cop who belongs to a group called the Society which Carter has warned her to stay away from. She has an Iron Dwarf named Mortimer as a friend, and Simon Steptoe, a reformed demon, has taken up residence in Tessa's home. While the Professor was gone, Tessa accepts an invitation from the Society to help her learn about her magical abilities. My only non spoiler comment is that there are only two characters who stand out, the rest are background noise.
There are those outside of her circle who would love nothing more to get their hands on what Tessa holds; the maelstrom stone. The mysterious Malender shows up with a flaming whip handle advising Tessa that she is about to be judged for her actions since she became aware of the magical world. There is also the appearance of a nasty piece of work who just happens to be a vampire. Nicolo has been around so long that nobody, including the Society, wants to break the delicate balance knowing that he could crush them as easily as a bug. Trouble in a major way has finally caught up with Tessa, and it will take luck and perhaps a non-magical being to keep Tessa and her mother alive.
Conclusion: This story feels like a conclusion after all is said and done and the gang is looking back on what happened, and who they may not see again. However, it is my fervent hope that the author continues this series since it is light on romance and heavy on the unexpected. This series is highly underrated. I'd definitely love to see more people pick up this series. Tessa isn't a Mary Sue. She doesn't magically come into stunning new abilities. She struggles and fights and kicks ass whenever she's confronted by another antagonist.