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The New Improved Sorceress
Wayward Mages #2
by Sara Hanover
DAW Books; 362ppp; $16
Published: January 2020

 This a delightful continuation of the characters and story in Hanover’s previous novel, The Late Great Wizard. In this book, Hanover gives us a Tessa refining her talents and her ability to deal with the magic around her.

Tessa’s tight coterie of friends are: Simon Septoe (demon), Hiram Broadstone( Iron Dwarf), Carter Phillips a member of the mysterious Society and a local cop, the befuddled phoenix wizard Brandard, whose soul is now inhabiting the young buff body of Brian. Brandard still hasn’t quite gotten his stuff together to perform the ritual to bring back his original self. Surrounded by the arcane and magical, Tessa also, luckily, has the support of her mother, who is working on a doctoral thesis and bemusedly makes meals and provides much needed emotional support—to everyone. Tessa also has her BFF Evelyn, a rich blonde cheerleader, who provides normal, college-level support and occasionally provides unexpected prophecies.

The crux of this tale is the Eye of Nimora, a ruby the size of a goose egg that is an ancient Iron Dwarf relic that compels the truth from anyone that has gone missing. And it’s Hiram’s step mother, a kick butt Harpy named Goldie who knows its whereabouts as it was a gift to her from Hiram’s dad. Except she’s been kidnapped and is nowhere to be found.

The evils of the world are gaining strength and they need to be stopped before all chaos breaks out. Funny enough the nasties in this tale are led by gorgeous ethereal elves who dislike humans (except to manipulate). Their leader, Devian really has it in for Tessa. And then there’s the outrageously gorgeous Malendar, an enigmatic being, mostly dark like his attire, but who will show up unexpectedly to help Tessa. She hates it that she finds him attractive!

This is a strongly knit plot, everyone providing Tessa support as she works to uncover where the Eye of Nimora is and return it to the Dwarves (who have paid her a huge finders fee, sorely needed by Tessa and her mom.) With all the characters, the novel moves along evenly as Hanover has a firm grasp of her abilities to smoothly deliver the story.

We find out more history of the Iron Dwarves and the new baddies on the block, the elves. And Malendar. He remains a complex, slippery character who helps Tessa out when it suits him and confuses the young sorceress as to his real desires. Is he bad or is he good or a kaleidoscope of both?

As Tessa stumbles through her challenges and tries to get a handle on the players in the magical world, she comes across a nasty little book on the Dark Arts which unexpectedly gives her real magic. Strong magic she can use defensively.

She is still the new kid on the magical block, but her strengths, and her friendships are getting stronger and more refined. There is definitely more to come. ~~ Sue Martin

For other titles by Sara Hanover click here

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