Amy’s day starts with three things: Coffee, breakfast, then brains. In that order.
Relax, it’s not what you think. She’s just your everyday neurosurgeon who can fix everyone’s brain but her own. It doesn’t matter if she has fifty years of life experience and regularly works with mages—she’s still a mundane.
Her last achievement was what, ten years ago? She’s not sure if anyone even remembers it. Determined not to be a one-hit-wonder, Amy jumps head-first into a new opportunity. Literally.
Some people buy sports cars to deal with a midlife crisis—Amy has brain surgery.
The results are even bigger than her career ambitions, and Dr. Amy Bant will need the help of her siblings to survive what comes next. Cordelia, an agoraphobic underwater photographer, Thomas, a playboy with a Brazilian tourism business, and Mary, a choir director with a truth-teller husband are all keys to unlocking secrets a whole lot closer to home than any of them could have realized.
Turning fifty doesn’t have to be mundane—not when you’re in the Bant family!
Sirens Unbound is a 400-page novel told from each member of the Bant family who are all over forty. This is Book 1 in the Fifth Mage War Series.
A magical epic about sirens, fae, and family ties
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.
Having lived abroad in Germany and married into a Colombian family, I’m fascinated by stories about cultural misunderstandings. So when I sat down to write my series, I deliberately created several different species, with lots of different cultures to explore. Of course, this complicated the storyline quite a bit, and my urban fantasy soon grew to an EPIC size 😉 Not only do we have the “real world” of mundane politics, but there are also mages, were-jaguars, werewolves, dwarves, and faeries. Book One really focuses on siren culture, but I trickle in some moments of culture shock with mages and faeries, too.
I have to admit loving wordplay. And the words “fair” and “fairy” were just too much fun to resist. The fae in my world are obsessed with fairness. Of course, what seems fair to a faerie may not make sense to a human. And the fae are known for “cutting off their nose to spite their face,” when confronted with a bargain that they perceive to be unfair. This is all in line with many fantasy tropes, so I hope that much about the fae in my world will be familiar territory for fantasy readers. For example, in my story, the fae are poisoned by iron, derive their magick from the Earth and have prodigious magical powers in healing and glamours. They’re the only “immortals” in the world, though as Titania points out, “immortal doesn’t mean unkillable.”
I loved creating the different fae species — from the classic English mythology with seelies, nymphs, and will o’ the wisps to Eastern European faeries like vila, leshiye, and bolotniks – they were fun to research. Some of my readers already know a lot about these classic fairy tales, and I love it when they share their reactions to how my books characterize the different types of fae. I also get questions from readers about some of my invented faerie species. Yes, the aislings (from the Gaelic word for dream) and the nõiamoors (from the Estonian word for witch) are completely made-up. At one point in Book Two I have Mary Bant ask, “What even is a nõiamoor, anyway?” as a nod to one of my early readers who wondered the same thing.
In truth, I had the most fun using gods and goddesses from various mythologies as faeries or mages. Aphrodite is revered as the great mage who created the sirens around 750 B.C.E., while Num and Nga (Russian gods) still rule as the seelie lords of the Taiga forests, the cradle of fae civilization. I doubt many of you are familiar with Chía, an obscure Muisca goddess from South America, but she was the inspiration for another great mage who is reviled and admired in equal parts. Titania is the queen of the Yorkshire fae, and Penthesilea is the seelie queen of the Amazon. At one point, I have to write a short story about how Shakespeare came to visit the Yorkshire fae, and left the moors with the inspiration for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
While the Americans in my book (mages and mundanes alike) have fared better in understanding fae culture and making beneficial bargains with the fae, the Australian mages have been less successful. One common problem the characters have is expecting everyone to react and think like they do. Both the “good” guys and the “bad” guys get into trouble when they fail to account for differences in perspective. And isn’t that a universal truth!
Book Two, which I’m releasing in November, is all about being a stranger in a strange land. Amy, my mundane surgeon, winds up in Atlantis, surrounded by sirens and werewolves. Thomas struggles to keep his head above water in mage-run Australia, a rather violent culture for such a gentle siren. Ironically, Cordelia gets embroiled in mundane politics in D.C. while seeking a respite from siren politics, and Mary … well, let’s just say that Mary gets the turnaround she needs in her life.
Cultural misunderstanding is the basis of my first short story, which takes place about a year before the series starts. I wrote it at a reader’s request — she wanted to know how Cordelia got involved with a pack of werewolves. This is the story of that meet-cute, and I’ll be giving it away to members of my reader list next month.
Find Laura Here:
Word Mongery and Musings would like to thank Laura for sharing her valuable time and talent.
Wishing you all the very best success 🙂