Series: Cousins O'Dwyer
Published by Berkley on October 28th 2014
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Paranormal romantic suspense
Also in this series: Dark Witch, Shadow Spell
County Mayo is rich in the traditions of Ireland, legends that Branna O’Dwyer fully embraces in her life and in her work as the proprietor of The Dark Witch shop, which carries soaps, lotions, and candles for tourists, made with Branna’s special touch.
Branna’s strength and selflessness hold together a close circle of friends and family—along with their horses and hawks and her beloved hound. But there’s a single missing link in the chain of her life: love…
She had it once—for a moment—with Finbar Burke, but a shared future is forbidden by history and blood. Which is why Fin has spent his life traveling the world to fill the abyss left in him by Branna, focusing on work rather than passion.
Branna and Fin’s relationship offers them both comfort and torment. And though they succumb to the heat between them, there can be no promises for tomorrow. A storm of shadows threatens everything that their circle holds dear. It will be Fin’s power, loyalty, and heart that will make all the difference in an age-old battle between the bonds that hold their friends together and the evil that has haunted their families for centuries.
I read Blood Magick when it first came out – loved it and devoured it the very first day, in fact! – but I didn’t have time then to write up a review. By the time I got to it, the details were no longer fresh in my mind, so I recently reread it to refresh my memory.
I’ve been totally entranced with these books, with their mix of historical and modern-day fantasy and romance. (The Irish setting and characters don’t hurt, either!) Blood Magick is a deeply satisfying ending to the overall story arc, and a lovely romance as well.
If you haven’t read the first two books in the Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy, Blood Magick is definitely not the place to start. The three-book story arc, which details a centuries-old struggle to destroy the evil witch/wolf-shifter Cabhan, is at least as important as the relationship between Branna and Finbar, the heroine and hero of Blood Magick. In fact, the two plot lines are inextricably intertwined. You can’t begin to understand the complicated relationship between Branna and Fin without knowing their backgrounds, both genetic and magical, and historical and personal.
Branna is one of the Three, witches descended from the Dark Witch, destined to oppose and ultimately defeat Cabhan. Branna comes across as the oldest and most mature of the three cousins, and probably the strongest in power as well. She’s caring and kind, but decisive and determined, a leader in the Circle – the six who oppose Cabhan. And she’s stubborn – boy, is she stubborn! She and Fin loved each other passionately in their youth, but the revelation of his descent from Cabhan broke them apart and she has kept him at a distance ever since.
Fin has never stopped loving Branna, never wavered in his vow to finish Cabhan once and for all. The pain of Branna’s rejection keeps him from spending a lot of time at home, but now that the Three have gathered, he’s back and part of the Circle – something that troubles Branna for a number of reasons. This is how a second-chance love story should be written, with all the depth and complexity of their relationship, the pain and longing that working together without truly being together brings, Branna’s slow unfolding of trust all made clear through their thoughts, words, and actions.
I love both these characters, especially Fin, who is honorable and good and doesn’t deserve what Branna has put him through – although I do understand why she broke things off with him all those years ago. I’ve been waiting and hoping for their reconciliation through the first two books – but it doesn’t come about in quite the way I expected it to. The first time I read this book, I had difficulty understanding why Branna decides to let Finbar in again when she does – not so much into their circle, since that much is clear, but into her bed, into her life. On the second reading, I was able to see her growing understanding of Fin and his commitment to their cause… and the love she has never been able to cut out of her heart.
I’m as enamored of the magical story arc in these books as I am of the romances, and for the most part, this one is as gripping as the last two. The intertwining of the two times and sets of characters, early medieval and contemporary, serves to both root the story in Irish mythos and give it an even more otherworldly feeling, which juxtaposes well with the vivid day-to-day details of the six major characters’ lives. The suspense felt a little uneven, but kept building to the end. I felt like the ending was a little rushed; I would have liked more time spent on both the final battle and the aftermath. Also, the Circle makes a decision that affects the two non-witches (Meara and Boyle) in an unexpected way; I like where Roberts went with it, but would have liked more development after it, to get a better sense of how those two were affected long-term.
To be honest, I hated to see the story end; I would love to spend more time with Branna and Fin, Connor and Meara, and Iona and Boyle. These books strike so many chords in me! I know I’ll be reading this trilogy again and again.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2015 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge