Dark Witch
Book One - Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy
by Nora Roberts
(Berkley, $17, PG-13) ISBN 978-0425-25985-6
There is evil in the world and in this trilogy, the evil dates back centuries to its beginning when a good witch sacrificed her life against evil to protect her family. She passed on to her three children the tools that they and their descendants would need to defeat this evil force. In a tiny village in modern day Ireland, the legend is well known. Two cousins live in the town. They and their friends are fully aware they will be involved in this showdown. The question has always been – who is the third and when will it happen?

Iona Sheehan is the third, a distant cousin whose side of the family immigrated to America, where she has lived. But there was hole in her life. Her grandmother “Nan” was her one true connection, even as she and her parents could never bond. It is only in County Mayo, Ireland that Iona realizes what she is missing – love for her cousins and friends and yes, finally a man. There are six to form the circle: cousins Branna, Connor, and Iona. And Finbar (who is actually a descendant of Cabhan, the evil one), Meara and the love of Iona’s life – Boyle McGrath.

Iona has much to learn about her powers and her magic. In the course of learning she also falls for Boyle, a man who is courageous, loyal, and generous and who is equally attracted to her. In the midst of their magic, they have a misunderstanding which adds tension to their personal turmoil and to the face-off with the evil being. Iona and Boyle are well matched and it is easy to see they are meant for each other. But compared to other Nora Roberts’ couples in other trilogies, their connection is more inferred than felt. One could relate to Iona, but I never felt the strong connection to Boyle, nor really understood his place, except that he was friends with the other main characters. This lessened my enjoyment of their journey.

There is much to this story and there is not. While on the one hand there is a finely crafted mystery steeped in tradition and magic, there is also a feeling of sameness; a feeling that I’ve been down this path before and with more enjoyment. I will continue to read this trilogy, as I have all of Roberts’ tales. I await the second entry with a little less enthusiasm than in the past. I am ever hopeful that I am wrong in my concern and that the final two parts of this tale will wholeheartedly deliver.

--Shirley Lyons

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