I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “Dark Witch” by Nora Roberts! I’ve read several of her books before and loved them, so I’m glad to pick up this one to read! Here’s the summary so we know what it’s about:
“With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.
County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.
Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.
When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.
Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…”
Character development: 1 out of 5 stars
There was not a lot of character development for any of the characters individually, including the main characters Iona and Boyle. There isn’t a lot of information on Iona’s background, or how she happens to have the magical powers she has. She also feels flat, as her only main traits I recognized (other than the magic part) from her were her love of working with horses and her head-first nature. I also felt that Boyle did not have a lot going for him other than the fact that he owns the stables that she works at, and becomes her love interest. Nothing else about him really stuck with me.
I also thought there would be more of a threatening presence with the main villain in the story. However, the reader barely sees him in person other than in a few scenes in the present day and the beginning flashback in the book, so I was disappointed at that as well.
Romance development: 1 out of 5 stars
Iona and Boyle’s romance, unfortunately, is quite forced. It was very hard for me to see any chemistry between them unless they were kissing, fantasizing about each other, or having sex scenes. And if you need to show them kissing to fully convey the fact that they’re romantically attracted to each other with no well-written buildup, you’ve done a bad job of writing the chemistry. This is easily one of the weakest aspects of the book, especially since this is a romance-focused novel. Also, the sex-scenes were not well-written either, as they felt really rushed as opposed to Iona and Boyle taking that time to really get romantic with each other.
Plot development: 2 out of 5 stars
The plot itself was very slow. I also wished that there would be more expansion on the beginning flashback of the book to show more of how it tied into the main plot, other than the main villain being part of it. I think this was due to the attempted developing romance between Boyle and Iona that it slowed down so much, but I also just feel like the plot did not have a lot going on in it. We have the romance plot, sure, but we don’t have a lot of explanation for what is at stake and what is going on overall with all the characters.
Worldbuilding development: 2 out of 5 stars
The magic-related aspects of this world were definitely a bit iffy and unclear regarding how it all worked. This was somewhat rectified by the magic lessons Iona got throughout the novel, but even then it was hard to tell how it exactly worked. I understood what it could do, and that there were intense amounts of focus involved, but the nitty-gritty of it didn’t feel well-explained to me. However, the worldbuilding did have some interesting concepts of its magic explored in the book, as well as the curse on Iona’s family.
Overall, I’m rating this book 1.5 out of 5 stars!
This is, admittedly, not the best Nora Roberts book I’ve read (I’d recommend her books “Stars of Fortune,” “Bay of Sighs” and “Island of Glass” that I previously reviewed to read, instead), but though this is one of her weaker works, it did have some promising worldbuilding concepts that could be expanded on more.