Reviewed by Tori
Once upon time, in the Emerald Isle, a young witch and her three children fought a valiant fight against the evil sorcerer, Cabhan, who was bent on taking their powers. When the young witch had nothing more to fight with, she gave her life and the majority of her powers to her children, using the very last bit to trap and kill the sorcerer. The three children fled to safety and stayed true to their heritage and their mother by continuing to old ways and passing their knowledge and powers to each surviving generation.
Only Cabhan didn’t die.
Now in the present, the time has come for the current generation of three to come together to once again fight Cabhan and protect the heritage that was given to them through blood and death.
Ignored as a child, Iona Sheehan has come to Ireland, seeking her ancestral roots and to find the love her parents neglected to give her. Her grandmother, Nan, sends her to her cousins to learn her family history and to further learn the powers that have resided in her since she was a child. Once she arrives, she is swept up in to a whirlwind of magic, drama, intrigue and a war that started hundreds of years ago.
Dark Witch is the first in a trilogy that is based on three cousins. Book one revolves around American born cousin, Iona Sheehan. Emotionally abandoned by her parents, Iona is an apologetic perfectionist who only wants to be accepted and loved for who she is. Coming to Ireland was her grandmother’s idea. An ancient prophecy is coming true and Iona is needed if the family has any hope of banishing the evil that has risen again. The book starts out strong, beginning in the past and giving us a firm foundation on which to build the plot. Robert’s goes into heavy detail, making sure we understand all that has happened to lead us to this point in time. An age old evil has stalked the family of witches since the beginning of time, pitting good against evil through the centuries. Now the time has come for the present day generation to take up the cause.
Once we are brought into the present, the story slows down dramatically as character introductions, placement, and future story lines are addressed. In essence, the book spends a majority of its time setting the stage for the next two books with interjections of action and drama concerning the main conflict. A romance runs alongside the main conflict, intertwining as we race to the finish.
There are six main characters in this trilogy. Iona Sheehan, Branna O’Dwyer, Connor O’Dwyer, Boyle MacGrath, Finbar Burke and Meara Quinn. Robert’s has a gift with character development and that is quite evident in here. I felt comfortable with each one we meet and found myself enchanted by their individuality and the dark undercurrents that flow through them all. With this huge cast you would expect some confusion but Roberts handles them like a pro. Each book focuses on one couple, Dark Witch being Iona and Boyle’s story
Iona Sheehan is a likeable character whose character changes throughout the book. I did find her puppy dog enthusiasm and “I just want to be loved” attitude annoying in the beginning. She has a low self esteem, which is to be expected considering her parents, but it translates into a pushiness that only ends up with her getting her feelings getting hurt. Her maturity, both physically and emotionally, grows throughout the story and towards the end she becomes a more secure version of herself. I enjoyed her gift with horses. It opens up an emotional pathway for her that not only links her to the past but allows for her to lay roots and become the person she will need to be in the future.
Boyle is the direct opposite of Iona. Quiet, gruff, and very private, he is quite unprepared for the whirlwind called Iona that descends on him. Having grew up with the O’Dwyers and Fin, he knows of their powers and the prophecy though he never expected he might be dragged into it. He sees Iona and wants her but has problems with the fact he’s her employer and how the strength of her appeal to him. He is completely bowled over by her and that scares him to death.
It’s in the romance that my attention began to wander. A viable opposites attract trope couldn’t overcome the sheer lack of chemistry between this couple. There is a lot of time devoted to Iona and Boyle maneuvering their way around each other. Iona pushes and corrals him towards a sexual relationship. As I stated earlier she’s like a puppy. One who keeps nipping, barking. licking, and sneaking into your bed until you just let them stay. And that’s what Boyle does. He just lets her stay. He is impotent against her enthusiasm and beauty. We meander through their unbalanced relationship and watch them comport themselves in day to day activities. This whole section was loose and unstructured. When the romance gets to be too much for Boyle, he blows and we are back at the beginning. I think if there had been more conflict or tension between Iona and Boyle, it wouldn’t have felt so forced and uncomfortable. It’s only after the their conflict reveals does the spark I had waited for the whole book appear. This is where they became interesting. Unfortunately, it’s almost towards at the end and the finale begins it’s set up, overshadowing our lovers.
The other five characters, especially Branna and Fin, are a well developed and personable group. We learn some interesting history Branna and Fin share and why they are at odds now. Their chemistry and sexual tension simmers through the book and provides some tense moments. Cabhan is an exceptional villain, creepy in his magic and his seductive offers. I do hope Roberts divulges into his back story. I would have also enjoyed reading some scenes from his point of view.
The ending is a climactic battle, using magic and ingenuity to beat back the darkness. Though not on the par with some of Robert’s earlier PNR trilogies; The Circle and the Sign of Seven, it’s still an interesting start and fans of lightweight PNR are sure to enjoy this.