Favorites From The Old Blog | Review: DARK WITCH (Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy, #1) by Nora Roberts

In 2010, I started the book blog Books Make Me Happy. In 2018, between a frustrating, snafu-filled web host move and lots going on outside of the blogiverse, I closed the page down. Now — I’ve got my blog mojo back a bit, and am having a fantastic time with this new site. I love sharing new things, but hate the idea of losing so many awesome posts from the old blog. So… every now and then, I’m going to re-post something that originated there. A review of a book I loved, a chat with a favorite author, etc. At the end — I’ll add any new thoughts I have.


If you followed me here from BMMH, hope you love these little “blasts from the past”. If you’re new to my bookish world, I hope you find some new (old) things to check out!

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DarkWitchAuthor: Nora Roberts
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Pages: 368
ISBN #: 9780425259856
FTC Disclaimer: Book was received from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

DARK WITCH is my very first Nora Roberts book. I feel like I’ve joined some massive “Romance Readers Club” and am waiting for my button to arrive, lol!! I only recently discovered that “La Nora” (as she’s affectionately known amongst her longtime fans) wrote paranormal titles. As it turns out, she has at least three paranormal romance series (that I can determine), and other standalone books that have paranormal elements. Considering her worldwide following, and the intriguing writeup for DARK WITCH, I couldn’t resist the chance to check out her storytelling. I am SO glad I did!

I loved this book. LOVED IT!

The amount of information we learn in the first two chapters would simply strangle most stories. I was impressed with the depth of the world-building, the character development, and the clarity in regards to the overall storyline that was presented in such a short amount of space. I KNEW the main characters (or, a version of them), and I KNEW what they were going to face. I even had strong guesses about how things in this story, and the rest of the series, were likely to unfold. You might think, “Why keep reading, if you already knew it all?” It’s because I CARED. In two chapters, I cared about the characters and the storyline enough that I could not put the book down.

The story goes from those first two chapters, hundreds of years prior, to present day Ireland. It’s a big jump, but a seamless one.

Iona Sheehan is the kind of character I love. She’s reached a point in her life where she’s not holding back. She says what she means, she takes chances, she gives 100% of herself, and she FINDS the good in people and things around her. The best way I can describe her is “refreshing”. She comes to Ireland to find family, and a place for herself. She also comes to find some answers. Answers about her history, and her destiny.

Branna and Conner O’Dwyer are Iona’s cousins. They’re the ones who can answer her questions. With them, she learns about the magic she’s inherited, and what joys and dangers it brings. The magical elements in the book are not showy and over the top, although the characters do play a bit with them. Magic doesn’t overtake the story. The magic is built into the character, and serves a purpose… as naturally as hair color or personality. As much as she starts to feel comfortable and at home, Iona also finds herself a target for a creature that has been biding its time, waiting to strip the Dark Witch of her powers.

One of the things that I loved about this book is its balance. There is magic, both good and evil, but there is normal, real life, as well. While Iona’s ease with horses is part of her charm, the scenes that take place at the stables (and with Boyle… humina, humina) ground the story. Boyle, Meara, and Fin may be “secondary” characters, but they compliment the three cousins, and each one adds a necessary element to the story.

The relationships feel real. The familial ties, Irish and welcoming, are strong from the word go. The romantic relationships are exciting, and awkward, and beautiful and messy, and just exactly right. (YES, I wanted to simultaneously hug and throttle them from time to time!!) As much as Iona is free-spirited and anxious to find love, Boyle is bewildered by the idea that she would want him, and completely unsure of how to handle the situation. It was really a joy (for the most part… remember that throttling??) watching these two figure things out.

DARK WITCH is all of the things I love about paranormal romances. There was enough magic and danger to keep me entranced and on my toes. Enough romance to get my heart pounding without it taking over the story. And enough “real life” to keep it relatable. I really can’t think of anything I would change.
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New Thoughts: I had forgotten how much I loved this book until recently, when I realized I got distracted and never read the rest of the trilogy!!! (I have all three of the books in hardcover, buried on my shelf!) I’m excited to revisit this story, and I will DEFINITELY be adding my reviews for SHADOW SPELL and BLOOD MAGIC very soon.

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