November 13, 2013

Review: Dark Witch (or Three Sisters Island v2.0)

Dark Witch
Book One of the Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy
Nora Roberts

Published: October, 2013

Piatkus, Trade Paperback, 342p.
ISBN: 978-0-7499-5859-6

Three cousins inherit a gift that will tranform their lives...

Iona Sheehan has just taken the biggest gamble of her life.  Leaving her job, her home and her family in Baltimore, she has come to Ireland in search of adventure - and answers.

Iona has always felt a powerful connection to the home of her ancestors.  So when her beloved grandmother confesses an extraordinary family secret, she can't resist visiting County Mayo to discover the truth for herself.  Arriving at the beautiful and atmospheric Castle Ashford, Iona is excited to meet her cousins, Connor and Branna O'Dwyer, for the first time.  And when she lands a job at the local riding school she finds herself drawn against her will to its owner - the hot-tempered but charismatic Boyle McGrath.  Perhaps in County Mayo she has found her true home at last.

What Iona doesn't realise is that her cousins have been expecting her for a long time.  Connor, Branna and Iona have all inherited a powerful but dangerous gift from an ancestor known as the Dark Witch.  And they are about to discover that some old legends can return to haunt the present...

My library emailed me to let me know that Dark Witch was waiting for me and I was so happy - good reading material has been scarce around here lately - so the next time I went into town I made sure to pick it up.  It sat for a day, staring at me from the arm of the couch, until I finally gave in last night and headed off to bed early (had a big thunderstorm - perfect for witchy reading).

I read this book late into the night, and I it kept niggling me that I thought this book seemed very familiar.  Perhaps someone else had a similar scenario?  I finished it, put it aside and turned out the lights.  Unfortunately, it was still bugging me this morning and as I was re-reading a portion of the book it hit me - this is just like the Three Sisters Island Trilogy (3SI)!  Once I'd made the connection, I flew to the bookshelf as fast as my sore feet would take me.  And for the last couple of hours, I've been re-reading the original witchy trilogy.  I've finished Dance Upon the Air, and am three quarters of the way through Heaven & Earth.

When you look at both of these trilogies side by side, it's amazing how similar they are.  Seriously, you have the three witches descended from the original three - plus an outsider (Connor, Branna, Iona and Fin here, Mia, Ripley, Nell and Sam Logan in the other trilogy) and they are trying to defeat a centuries old evil curse.  There is even the failed romance of our head witch and the 'outsider' when they were younger.  In 3SI, Mia and Sam had a hot and heavy romance until it flopped - he broke her heart - and now nearly 10 years later, he's back to help break the curse.  The only difference is that in the O'Dwyer trilogy, after Fin and Branna's romance hits the rocks, Fin sticks around.

So when there were original elements to be found in Dark Witch, I was so happy.  I did like the twist with the O'Dwyer's having the animals as their guides - a nice diversion from 3SI - and this sick evil b*****d is a slightly more twisted version than the entity the witches faced on 3SI (however, they both still take on the guise of a red eyed wolf!)  The romance between Iona and Boyle was very similar in a way to Nell and Zach's (Nell was physically abused, Iona just suffered from emotional neglect), and if Nora Roberts hadn't written the Three Sisters Island Trilogy you'd swear someone had just ripped off her idea.

When I think about this book by itself as the start of a trilogy it's not too bad.  Great themes, I came to love the characters, especially Alastar, and being set in the beautiful and haunting Irish countryside just added a little extra touch of magic.  However, when you've already read and loved the Three Sisters Island books, Dark Witch seems to be the poorer cousin.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, or enjoys a good paranormal romance.

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