This trilogy starts with a glimpse of the past. In Ireland, 1263, Sorcha, a Dark Witch lives with her kids (Brannaugh, Eamon and Teagan). She awaits the return of her husband (Daithi) as she fights against the evil Cabhan. Cabhan has magical powers, is purely evil in his thirst for blood, and hungers for the immense power which resides in Sorcha. Sorcha dies after bequeathing her three children with her power. She sends them away to protect them and knows her children, or theirs, will vanquish Cabhan one day.
It is 2013. In this generation, the three who hold the power are Branna, Connor and Iona. The O’Dwyer’s live in Count Mayo. Sorcha’s children failed to win over Cabhan and so did the others that came from them. They cannot live freely because Cabhan still wants their power and will kill to have it.
Iona has lived in Baltimore all her life but never felt at home. She knows her legacy, accepts it and comes to Ireland to make a life there and be a Dark Witch. She meets with her cousins (Branna and Connor) who welcome her warmly. Iona encounters Cabhan as well. Now that this generation has its three legacies together, it is time for them to take the fight to Cabhan. Dark Witch constitutes the first attempt by the cousins to defeat Cabhan. And of course this is Iona’s story, where she finds love with Boyle. Iona is pixie-like in her joy and enthusiasm. Boyle is her boss and a kind-hearted man with a rough exterior. He doesn’t possess a lick of magic but has been a friend to the cousins. Both come across each other in the personal as well as professional spheres and soon the sparks start flying.
Shadow Spell is Connor’s story. He has faced Cabhan all his life but Cabhan remained at the edges then. Now Cabhan actively seeks to possess the power and destroy the three legacies. Meara is a friend to Connor’s sister Branna, and has known Connor all her life. But after Connor survives a close brush with death, both are drawn together. Connor is powerful, Meara possesses no magic, but she has a loyal and strong heart and she chooses to stand tall against Cabhan when he starts focusing on him. Connor is already fighting Meara to make her believe in their love, but he also has to ensure that Meara survives against Cabhan, and that they finish him. This book includes the second attempt of the cousins to defeat Cabhan.
Blood Magick is the last book in the trilogy. Branna and Fin have been in love since they were kids. But since Fin bears the mark that distinguishes him as the heir of Cabhan, they cannot be together. Fin has been searching for a way to remove the mark but hasn’t found it yet. Branna has fought, fought hard against Fin’s involvement in her life but it cannot be avoided. They have to work together to vanquish the evil. And if the close proximity leads to unavoidable attraction they will deal with it, or so Branna has always resigned herself to think. But greater forces are at play here. And what seems easy will never be so, especially when it comes to Fin and Branna’s relationship. The circle of friends once again comes together in this last fight. This time, what’s at stake is higher and the battle more dangerous. This is the last chance they have of eradicating Cabhan. If they fail, they might lose more than just the opportunity, they might lose a friend.
This series literally steps up on the rating chart book by book. The first book had me annoyed. Iona did not win my heart, but I did sympathise with her. I liked the fact that she stood up for herself and refused to compromise time and again. I loved the fact that she admitted that she deserved better and acted accordingly. That said, the immediate acceptance of Iona into the inner circle of friends bugged me. Sometimes, things and events went too fast and sometimes they went too slow. There were a few parts which just seemed a bit disjointed and the progress wasn’t smooth. Add to that, I am not a big fan of almost-love at first sight. I had assuredly read better stuff by Nora Roberts. So yeah, I wasn’t very happy. In my opinion, Dark Witch definitely suffered from being the first-book-in-the-series-syndrome. On its own, I rate this book 3/5.
Dark Witch did not impress me but succeeded in getting me interested in the series. I wanted Cabhan to die (bloodthirsty moment here, I wanted him to PAY). I wanted Meara and Connor together. In Shadow Spell, I got all that. I liked the way the events in the book took place. The mesh of past and present – for both scenes and the characters, delighted me and interested me more. Connor’s character, his depth was good to see. And I loved Meara, flaws and all. She was a strong character easy to identify with. The chemistry between them was good but the understanding between the two was better. The plot held up nicely and surprises did not disappoint. Overall, I rate this book a 3.5/5.
Blood Magick was my favourite book in the series. Branna and Fin both had suffered separately. They loved each other but the mark that Fin bears made Branna wary of him. A haunting beauty, that is what I saw when it came to their relationship. The previous books had Fin and Branna exchanging smoldering looks, painful confessions and beautiful emotions. Consequently, there was a build up of expectations with this story. Since the author delivered, I felt relieved and ecstatic both. Instead of making the story too hot or too sweet, Blood Magick was a good mix of sweet and saucy, happy and painful, obvious and the unexpected. The final showdown, and Fin’s proceeding efforts to face Cabhan were really good. I liked Branna, she held the strength of steel and possessed the brains too. Fin’s loyalty to her, his determination to make everything all right again, even at a great amount of sacrifice, was commendable. I also loved the author’s take on Fin’s story. She wordlessly admits that the good characters can do big harm too. At a glance, this book had everything I could have hoped for. For that I rate this book a 4/5.
Something I love about books by Nora Roberts is that human failings, day-to-day life, the minute details, all that make a story realistic are dealt with amazingly. Be it the profession or the emotion, she captures the spirit exceedingly well without overwhelming the reader.
I had heard that this series mimics the Sign of Seven Trilogy by Roberts and even bears some similarities to The Circle Trilogy. I find it hard to agree. The concept is similar and there does exist a pattern to which Nora Robert adheres to. However, this pattern is followed in all her novels fantastical or contemporary. But then, there are only so many ways one can write a good romance and this author has experimented with them all. I say that because I have read almost all of her series published yet. She is my go-to-author when I want to feel good and need the satisfaction derived from a happy ending. That said, I am not biased towards her or anything. It is just that the similarities do come to an end after a short order of time.
In the above mentioned series and most of the other series by this author, the prominent characters are either friends or family. In the stories with the paranormal, the story gets kick-started due to some sort of catalyst added to the already existing dangerous mixture. From there it is a fight against power, time, and sometimes emotions. The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy proceeds in the same manner. However, the background is different; the beginning, location, timeline all are different. Just because there is a formula, people have overlooked the simple enjoyment of reading about different characters, due to which the book’s popularity has suffered.
I enjoyed The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy, and hope another series will make it to my collection soon. On the whole, I rate this series a 3.5/5. It deserves a chance and I am glad I gave it one.