In the previous book, Mages Unbound, Mary accidentally drinks from a fae chalice and is transformed. Fully human, and yet fully fae, Mary is the first river nymph to walk the Earth in centuries. All she wants to do is use her voice and newfound powers to help the world’s rivers. But the chalice in her care is a prized magical artifact, and its reappearance in the world sets in motion a new round in the long-standing fae game to claim it.
Mary doesn’t understand faerie pastimes, but when the Mississippi River disappears, she has no choice but to engage in a variety of fae games to discover what happened. While she isn’t bound by the faerie instinct to pursue a “fair bargain,” she nevertheless becomes embroiled in their activities on her journey to rescue the river.
After meeting with the local leader of a fae preserve, Mary gains the aid of two companions: a flaming frog prince (Kresimir) as an advisor and a were-jaguar (Julia) as a protector. They discover that a trio of mages have hijacked the soul of the Mississippi to garner her attention.
Pursued by the seelie Lord Nga, who wants Mary’s chalice to send the humans back where they came from (the Other Side), Mary and her two companions race north to confront the mages at the Mississippi’s headwaters in Minnesota.
Soon the elemental faerie, Boreas, joins their journey. He pushes Mary to become an elemental like himself: a faerie who fades into the elements but can return to corporeal form at will. Merging with something greater than yourself while keeping your individuality is almost impossible — only the rare human prophets and elemental fae have managed it.
Mary must survive games with both Nga and Boreas before she can confront the mages who have stolen the Mississippi’s soul. When she finally arrives at the river’s headwaters, Nga’s interference and the mages’ “requests,” push her to examine whether she will be an avenging river nymph like her predecessors or to forge her own path. The mages want her to open a bridge to the Other Side so they can bring about Armageddon. Nga wants to use the chalice to return all humans to the Other Side, leaving the Earth to the fae alone. Boreas wants to see if Mary can truly give a gift with no ulterior motive or merely “bargain” as the fae do.
With the help of her companions, Mary learns how to bargain and play with the fae, when to listen to their advice, when to stand by her own beliefs, and how much of her incredible power she is willing to exert to achieve her goals. She, the mages, and Nga all enter bridge to the Other Side and no one returns unchanged.
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. Given its exploration of philosophical themes and lack of romance, this story might be better classified as upmarket metaphysical fantasy as opposed to an adult fairy tale within the urban fantasy genre.
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